Do you love Zillow, that fun little app that provides a valuation of your home? A friend of mine is a real estate agent and she definitely doesn’t like the app as much as I do. I asked her why, and she had a great explanation that’s stuck with me. Zillow sets an expectation for homeowners that, while based on average sales, square footage, and other quantifiable metrics, isn’t always reflective of the actual market conditions or qualitative value of the home.
Well, I’m sure our home would sell for much higher than Zillow says it would. Naturally! How can Zillow capture the beautiful pool area we worked so hard to landscape, choosing each plant carefully? How can an app place a value on the convenience of adding a bathroom downstairs, so that one can take a quick call-of-nature break when spending time in the yard? Could the app possibly know how many hours it took for my meticulous Swiss hubby to carefully cut, place, and level each piece of flagstone in the front courtyard, reducing the amount of water needed for the lawn that used to be there?
But here’s the rub. If I sell, I want the house to sell for the best possible price. I want the appraisal to come in at a sky-high maximum value. At the same time, I want the County Assessor to value my home much, much lower, so that I’m not paying an arm and a leg in property taxes. And, when I purchase a new home, I'm going to leverage every defect I spot to negotiate a price that's rock-bottom.
I want two sets of weights and measures.
'You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measurement of weight, or capacity. 'You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin; I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from the land of Egypt.
"You shall not have in your bag differing weights, a large and a small. "You shall not have in your house differing measures, a large and a small. "You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just measure, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Enough, you princes of Israel; put away violence and destruction, and practice justice and righteousness Stop your expropriations from My people," declares the Lord GOD. "You shall have just balances, a just ephah and a just bath.
There are over 10 verses in the Bible that address this topic. Does it apply today? There just isn’t much opportunity to cheat someone using a scale. Anything we buy by weight or volume can be easily and quickly verified. Our commonly-used measurement devices are calibrated to a standard.
Except for the heart. There’s just no keeping that ornery organ calibrated, is there?
The warnings given in scripture about two sets of measures certainly applied at the time of writing, but is there an application for us today? Most of us aren't in the business of selling hins of wine and ephahs of flour.
I’ve noticed, over the years, that we tend to over-estimate the value of what we have to offer, and underestimate the value of what others have to offer. I'm no better. No doubt, this is a remnant of the same self-centeredness that we all exhibit as infants and toddlers. There’s a reason the “one cuts in half, and the other one chooses first” system was established to help kids share a lone cookie or the last slice of cake. It’s to ensure both parties can come to an agreement about the equality of the halves.
But I digress…as usual.
Can we apply the principle of one set of weights and measures to a more adult life? Absolutely.
If you were to visit any yard sale – which seems to be a very American thing, according to my European friends – you might find that the seller will offer Grandma Betty’s vintage lamp for sale at the astounding price of $25. The shade is dusty, but reflects the flower-power of the sixties well in tones of fuchsia and mandarin. The asymmetrical shape of the carved wooden base often provoked questions from the grandkids which made everyone laugh: Grandma, why is that lamp crooked? There are nicks on it from the tiny puppy teeth of Frosty, the family dog, who was upset he didn’t get a piece of the Thanksgiving turkey and decided to gnaw on the tasty wooden lamp, instead! The seller hates to let the lamp go, but the wiring is a little unreliable and she doesn’t have the time or expertise to repair this piece of family treasure.
The potential buyer of that lamp, however, doesn’t see vintage so much as old and broken. She gasps at the price and thinks of the lamp she sold at her own yard sale a few years ago, which she let go for a mere $5, sans teeth marks and in good working order. Absurd, she thinks, who would pay that much for a piece of old junk? She purses her lips in disapproval, assuming the seller is either a fool, or just plain greedy.
And there we go. But the seller isn’t greedy or foolish, she’s just measuring the value of her lamp in a way that reflects what’s important to her. Is she wrong? Maybe the buyer is just as wrong because she places more value on the material value of the lamp, and less value on the human story behind it.
These hypothetical ladies are not using the same set of weights and measures.
Hold on. I’m not saying they're engaging in sin. I only presented the story of this lamp to show you that we all see things differently. The puppy-gnawed lamp could just as easily be cakes donated to a fundraising bake sale by two ladies, or a custom-made kitchen table crafted by a hobbyist woodworker, or a friend doing a favor for another. The person giving places high value on what’s offered. The person receiving tends to place less value on it. Two sets of weights and measures are being used.
Now let’s see how that works with forgiveness.
Unfortunately, we want to be forgiven a lot, and tend to be a little stingy on forgiving others. Again, I’m just as guilty of it as anyone. It’s so difficult to offer forgiveness, but it’s very, very important to the one who offers us forgiveness...and even died for it.
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”
What a beautiful application of equal weights and measures Jesus offered here. He’s provided an example of how we are to measure fairly in our daily lives. He lets us cut the cake in half, but unlike our human approach, he offers us both pieces. We benefit from both being forgiven, and offering forgiveness.
And, he goes on to remind us that the way we value our contributions to this world, and behavior in this life, isn’t equitable. Our hearts are simply not calibrated properly.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”
But we’re not without hope. I believe that if we keep coming back in prayer, and humbly ask for re-calibration, God will answer us and we’ll be ready for our exit from this earthly life. Amen.
Here's a little more perspective.
Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.
You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
For how much have you been forgiven? When you think about people you need to forgive,
are you using the same set of weights and measures?