The Bible’s Viewpoint
Are God’s Standards Too Difficult to Reach?
“GOD DOES NOT MEASURE MEN BY INCHES.”—OLD SCOTTISH PROVERB.
SCHOOL tests, employment interviews, and medical examinations are just some of life’s turning points at which a person is measured. But when it comes to living daily by God’s standards, many persons feel they may somehow fail to reach them. Is that your belief too? Can you measure up to God’s standards?
To answer, let us first look at the standards God has set for his worshipers. The Bible casts light on the way we should walk through life. (Psalm 119:105) Bible writer wise King Solomon concluded that man’s “whole obligation” is to “fear the true God and keep his commandments.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13) The prophet Micah observed: “What is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?”—Micah 6:8.
Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, declared that no commands are greater than to “love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind and with your whole strength” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30, 31) In addition, we show that we love God by obedience to all of his commands.—1 John 5:3.
Simply expressed, humans should love and respect God, obey his commands, act fairly, be kind to all, and avoid pride. Are such standards not within our reach?
God Makes Allowance
God rightly expects humans to reach his standards. But, in all honesty, does any human conform perfectly to these standards all the time? Obviously no, for we have inherited imperfection from our forefather Adam. (Romans 5:12) Thus, we are prone to err. Yet this does not disqualify us from serving God acceptably.
To illustrate, consider the problems of learning to drive a car. It takes constant vigilance and time to drive well enough to pass a driving test. Of course, we still have to work at driving well even after getting a license. As we gain experience, we hone our skills. But there are no perfect drivers!
Happily, God makes allowance for our failings. He is not unreasonable, demanding what we cannot deliver, nor does he keep finding fault. He understands our frailties and weaknesses. King David, who sinned grievously, confessed: “He has not done to us even according to our sins; nor according to our errors has he brought upon us what we deserve.” For what reason? “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, [God’s] loving-kindness is superior toward those fearing him.” Even though Jehovah knows we sin, he is prepared to put our transgressions “as far off as the sunrise is from the sunset.”—Psalm 103:10-14.
Do Not Give Up
“When I’m depressed,” explains a sincere worshiper of God, “I sometimes conclude that I shall never succeed in living by God’s standards. But when I develop a more positive outlook, I feel I can manage to live the way God wants me to. But it is not all plain sailing!” Do not be discouraged if you feel this way. You are not the first, nor will you be the last, to have such sentiments.
The Christian apostle Paul frankly admitted: “When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me. I really delight in the law of God according to the man I am within, but I behold in my members another law warring against the law of my mind and leading me captive to sin’s law . . . Miserable man that I am!” Yet he did not conclude that what God expected was too difficult, for he added: “Who will rescue me from the body undergoing this death? Thanks to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, then, with my mind I myself am a slave to God’s law, but with my flesh to sin’s law.” (Romans 7:21-25) He thus felt able to please God though still a sinner.
Jehovah, our loving Creator, forgives our faults and failings through the merit of the ransom sacrifice of his dear Son, Jesus. “If anyone does commit a sin,” wrote the apostle John, “we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. And he is a propitiatory [covering] sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 2:1, 2) The barrier that sin interposes and that prevents us from reaching God’s standard for friendship is removed or broken by the power of Christ’s sacrifice. Thus fellowship with God is restored.
Humbly accepting this loving arrangement brings forgiveness, for God resides “with the one crushed and lowly in spirit.” (Isaiah 57:15) We can count on Him to revive our spirits. He promises to ‘raise up the lowly one from the very dust.’ No longer do we need to remain depressed when we fail to obey God perfectly. Rather, we can be confident that God never ignores the efforts we make to live by his standards.—Psalm 113:7; Hebrews 6:10-12.
Even though it is a struggle, you will observe that you are happier doing what pleases God. Devotion to God makes life more bearable for you and for those around you. Also think of the future. Striving to live up to God’s standards now brings the prospect of life everlasting under paradise conditions.—Isaiah 48:17; Romans 6:23; 1 Timothy 4:8.
Experienced mountaineers realize that once at the summit, they are only halfway. They still have to descend safely. Similarly, those fearing God need both to reach God’s standards and then to persevere in living by them.—Luke 21:19; James 1:4.
Draw comfort from the knowledge that God’s standards are not too difficult to reach. When you occasionally fail to conform perfectly to them, seek his forgiveness. Count on his loving support. (Psalm 86:5) Therefore, with Jehovah and his Son as your Helpers, you can measure up to God’s standards and meet with his approval.—Proverbs 12:2.