The Yardstick Lesson


My daughter asked me the other day, “Mom, when people grow up, do they live by themselves?” I said, “Well, yes, sometimes they do. Some grow up, get married, and have families.” She replied, “No, not me. When I grow up, I want to stay at home with you.” As the old saying goes, “When a child is old enough to leave home, a loving mother makes the child want to stay, and a good father makes sure they don’t.” As a mother, of course it is endearing to hear your children express such sweet sentiments. You want them to feel loved and supported. You also want them to be prepared to handle the world on their own, and that’s why the yardstick lesson is such an important one.

A yardstick is a measuring rod that is a yard long, and measures things by inches. Its use is so widespread that we frequently use the word ‘yardstick’ as an indicator or gauge for something. In common terms, we refer to it as a hypothetical way of comparing standards or benchmarks. For instance, a person might say that the frequency of a man’s contact and communication is a yardstick for measuring his interest in the relationship. Understanding the way this extremely simple measuring tool works can help us plot, plan, come close, or keep our distance.

Some of the biggest mistakes in life are because of toxic associations. We let the wrong people get too close and sometimes push the right people away. God warns us in Proverbs 14:7(NLT), “Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge on their lips.” This is a lesson that many of us learn the hard way. As adults, we sometimes wish we could turn back the hand of time or have a do-over when it comes to failing to discern. We wish that we would have recognized certain tendencies, or kept our distance to give ourselves time to see the real deal.

We want our children to grow up with a hopeful view of the world, but today’s complexities challenge us to be incredibly smart and spiritually wise about how we do this. We have no other choice but to instill within them a very sharp discernment about things like the character, motive, and intentions of people they don’t know very well. We have to model this for them by keeping our own radar in check.

Just as we want our children to learn to keep the wrong people at arm’s length, God wants us to be wise in this area as well. He’s given His Word to guide us. In 1Thessalonians 5:22 (NLT), He warns us, “Stay away from every kind of evil.” God wants us to stay away from evil because it has no place whatsoever with Him. David, the psalmist, wrote in Psalm 5:4 (NIV), “For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness; with you, evil people are not welcome.”  If evil people are not welcome with God, they ought not to be welcomed by us.

Heavenly Father takes it a step further and tells us exactly who and what these evil folks are.  2Timothy 3:1-5 (NLT) says, “3 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. 4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!”

The yardstick lesson is a much needed one to learn from God’s Word, so that we’re careful about our associations, and won’t invest time and energy into someone that isn’t of the Lord. It’s seeking God’s guidance through the Holy Spirit about who we should and shouldn’t allow into our lives. We would do well to remember that there are going to be some people we must love from a distance. Even those who may seem perfectly harmless can bring with them a ridiculous amount of toxicity, and we need to be careful and spiritually wise.

Until we get a green light from heaven with new folks, we need to bring out that trusty yardstick, and use it. Our children can learn by our example. If we model both how to be kind and keen, they’ll learn to always seek the counsel of the Lord and keep a healthy distance from anyone that truly doesn’t have their best interest at heart. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“The Yardstick Lesson”, written for findchristianman.com. Copyright©2020. All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!


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