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The Measure You Use

The measure you use…There’s an awful lot of retaliation going on in the media today. Presidential politics, partisan revenge, making up for the past wrongs of an opposing administration…no matter what “side” we may be on, one forgotten tenet that we should all do a better job of remembering is described by Jesus in Matthew 7:2.

He said, “For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." The knowledge of that verse should make us all tremble when it comes to thinking about our efforts to right the past wrongs of others. We’d have more success if we focused on righting our own wrongs.

There have been a few moments in my life where this verse was really brought into focus. As a commander of a unit in the military, I held power over careers and lives, and more than once I found myself eating my own words—reconsidering ideas I’d had about leadership, training, and combat as a younger officer.

Training this mustang, Carbon, has brought this verse into focus for me as well. Recently, Carbon began throwing a massive fit when tied to a post—snorting, pawing, rearing up on his hind legs and nearly choking himself with the halter. The easier path would have been to just get mad at him and apply pressure in various ways with a flag—to use his own fear against him to “fix” the problem. The hard path was to recognize that I’d made a previous mistake in his training when I tied him to a portion of the round pen that wasn’t secured, and he learned that he could just take it wherever he wanted to go. I had a choice—deal with the animal in a harsh way until I got the performance I wanted, or go back to the beginning where he first learned this lesson and start over from there. Either path could eventually lead to the behavior I needed, but there was only one path that involved me taking responsibility for where I had made a mistake. Only one path would result in a better horse down the road, a stronger relationship between us, and an approach that mitigated my own anger and bitterness. One path would result in collision, while the other —the harder one—would result in ownership and healing.

As always, the hard path is the only one worth taking…backing up three or four days of training and starting completely over with simple, positive experiences of being tied to a rigidly fixed object…which is what I should have been using from the beginning.

When we cast judgement on our neighbor or our enemies, are we prepared to suffer the same consequences for our actions? Are we prepared to own our contributions to the situation—to experience some honest self-reflection and take our share of the responsibility for the way things are? I started this journey with Carbon recognizing that his behavior has more to do with my own internals, and this lesson keeps repeating. It is certainly evident in society today. This is why Grace is such a miraculous and healing concept…if we want it for ourselves, the Lord reminds us that we should give it to others.

The measure you use…

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Jim Ellis
Jim Ellis
Feb 14, 2023

Heath, great challenge and illustration. Love the idea of going back with Carbon and altering his training in a positive way. Jim

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