How ‘For the Measure You Use’ Determines Your Life

How ‘For the Measure You Use’ Determines Your Life April 13, 2024

If we are stingy with others, can we be generous with God? When I say “generous,” I mean granting the Lord total dominion over your heart. The cross is the ultimate symbol of self-giving and we can never repay the Suffering Servant for all that he has done and continues to do.

Let’s face it, conquering death [resurrection] is the ultimate mic-drop; nothing needs to be said after that. However, to love the Lord our God with all our faculties means we must die to ourselves, fighting against our selfish inclinations and the allure of seeing our desires through at the expense of others.

If we offer ourselves as a living sacrifice, would that not be pleasing to the Lord? Can there be a greater expression of gratitude than this? The Good Shepherd has promised us ‘life in all its fullness’. If we remain safely on shore while Jesus calls us to walk on water with him, are we not forfeiting our inheritance?

For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

Imagine that you have five dollars in your pocket, and you come across a man who is holding a cardboard sign that reads “Hungry. Anything helps”. You notice that his eyes are glossy, his face unkempt, and his clothes are stained and tattered. At first glance, you may assume that he is a drug addict and that your ‘donation’ of five dollars will only go towards street drugs.

You might even pray that he be delivered from the demon of addiction. Who really needs deliverance in this situation? Is it the man who is asking for help, or the one passing judgment with their thoughts? In this scenario, several assumptions are being made.

The five dollars given to the homeless man must be spent how you see fit. You believe you have the right to decide how the man should live his life. Even if you were to watch the man walk over to the corner store and return with a bag of chips, you would most likely be upset that the man spent it on something unhealthy instead of an apple. As if we are so important that we are justified in thinking this way! These preconceived notions can prevent us from truly seeing someone for who they are. St. James cautious against such stinginess.

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense?

Now, imagine you are driving on the highway, and you realize that you are about to run out of gas. As soon as you pull into the gas station, you realize that you left your wallet at a restaurant located a few towns back. You try to explain your situation to the other drivers at the gas station, but they all ignore you and say things like, “Get a job and pay for your own gas” or “If you weren’t a meth addict, you could afford gas.” These comments would be hurtful, and you might even try to plead or convince people that the assumptions they are making about you are wrong.

Wouldn’t this be a fitting punishment for anyone who has ever held negative thoughts or feelings toward another as exhibited in the previous scenario? The images of those we have mistreated may flood our mind, leading us to feel remorse for our actions. Moments like these introduce us to a bittersweet thing called repentance.

Basil, a newfound friend whom I met on a retreat, recently asked me for some tips on how to embark on a successful road trip. The truth is, there is no magic formula. When I first started, I had no idea what I was doing, but I just went for it. My guardian angel must have worked overtime for such folly, but I emerged as a better person at the end of it.

As my dad likes to say, “Life is simple.” Once you get to know yourself and establish a relationship with the Creator, you can better live in harmony with others, whether they are family or strangers. The truth of this statement came about through learning and unlearning, as well as an unabashed examination of my faults and who I was becoming. It took me thousands of miles and the sobering realization of how many times I have missed the mark and contributed to the sins of the world. 

Metanoia is a lifelong commitment. I am nowhere near the end of the journey.

There is only one way to salvation, and that is to make yourself responsible for all men’s sins. (Fyodor Dostoevsky)

What always saw me through a road trip was the Jesus prayer and the generosity of others. Strangers have shared a cup of coffee, bought me a meal, invited me to stay at their place for the night, gone out of their way to drive me to the bus station, let me make a phone call to give my family a proof of life, filled my tank when my bank account was in the negatives, or spoken life into me when I was all but dead.

The only assurance on the road is God. Providence has taught me that trust in the Lord allows us to face any hiccup along our journey. All will be well. The right attitude and response will open doors rather than close them.

I did not expect any help, but when it came, it was a welcomed gift. The generosity of others changed my perspective and made me think beyond myself. Their kindness inspired me to be generous as well. Now, I cannot simply drive past a stranded traveler without offering help.

This does not make me a saint, but rather a human. A simple gesture of helping to change a tire or sharing a meal can have a lasting impact. It becomes love multiplied.

Let me give you a practical example to conclude: would a person become an excellent free throw shooter by shooting just one shot a day or shooting hundreds of shots? We should practice acts of love as if we are spiritual athletes who belong to a heavenly league. Interestingly, this is exactly what Christ the Commissioner calls us to do!

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar. If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see? The command we have from Christ is blunt: Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to love both. 1 John 4:20

About HJ Sandigo
HJ Sandigo hails from Placerville, California. His decision to exchange his car for a camper van led him to explore the country, hike around Europe, participate in the International Poetry Festival in Nicaragua, visit spiritual communities across the globe, and harmonize with monks while listening to James Taylor. HJ Sandigo is immensely grateful for the experiences, wisdom, and humor that people have shared with him throughout his journey. His work has been featured in Foreshadow Magazine, The Dreamland Review, Forum, and various poetry anthologies in San Francisco. You can read more about the author here.

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