Warning: The Department of Writing Excellence has determined that this article contains puns so bad that the reactionary groaning by the reader could cause a loss of concentration leading to missing the point. You have been warned.
If this was a small group meeting I’d ask you to think about all of the various devices in your house used to measure things. For instance: measuring cups and spoons of various sizes, thermometers, measuring tapes, yardsticks, rulers, squares, levels, clocks, timers, various scales, the electric meter, fuel gauges, buckets, gas cans, canning jars to name a few. All of these in some way or another measure something against a set standard in order to maintain fairness and achieve a certain level of uniformity.
The first item on Peter’s list is moral excellence which can be described as fidelity or uprightness. “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5–8, NASB95) Ah, but now we enter the quagmire of what is moral. Who determines what is right and wrong?
Among the list of measuring things is the simple straight-edged ruler. It is a staple of necessary school supplies and useful for measuring distance and drawing straight lines. (Department of Writing Excellence: We have warned you, proceed at your own risk). Like that child in school we too need a ruler, not a standards-based piece of wood or plastic, but a Ruler, a king, a lord; someone to set the standard for us. Just like that child’s ruler must meet governmental standards, moral excellence means measuring up to the standards of excellence set by God. Morality is not set by governments, boards, kings, or self but by God. He is the ruler against which all other rulers are judged. You could say that moral excellence means measuring up to God’s standards.
While I was researching this article I ran across NIST. NIST is the governmental agency tasked with maintaining standards; confirming that a 12-inch measuring device is exactly 0.3048 meters or the exact time down to the split second. (I wonder if people complain that NIST is judging them?) While in older times there were physical gages that were the “golden rule” against which appropriate devices were compared. Today they use something called an interferometer to confirm standard units of length. Basically, it uses light wave interference to very precisely produce and judge standard lengths. (Department of Writing Excellence: here we go again!). I found that interesting because so many see moral standards as a bother, interfering with what they want to do. But, that is what moral excellence is all about. It interferes with our propensity to stray away from God’s Rule and give us the means to measure how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go in order to measure up to God’s standard (Department of Writing Excellence: why do I bother?).