A benchmark is a standard set to measure or compare to. Traditionally, a bench mark was made by surveyors to serve as a point of reference to measure from. Benchmarks help ensure consistency and repeatable results. More specifically, a benchmark is a standard of excellence sought after.
For Christians, our benchmark is the standard established by Jesus and documented in Scripture. This standard is an unchanging truth, one that we should measure our life against to ensure we are living consistently according to God’s standard of righteousness.
Ultimately, because Christ-likeness is the central aim of the Christian’s life, it only makes sense to judge our growth according to the benchmark of Jesus, rather than the standard set by the world, or even other Christians. I find it very tempting to compare success with other people in my family, community, or church. I can look at some folks and give myself a pat on the back saying, “I’m doing pretty good compared to (fill in blank,)” or “There’s no way I’ll ever achieve all the great things (fill in blank) has done.” Comparing our life to other folks can be exhausting, but it can also be very unhealthy for us spiritually. In fact, we can really stunt our spiritual growth by fixing our eyes on standards set by other people, rather than the example set by Christ.
So what is the standard set by Christ? What should we seek to achieve? Ultimately, our goal is to be received by God into his kingdom, and Matthew 7:21-23 explains that we must do God’s will to be accepted into his kingdom. So how do we know and do the will of God? Well it starts with repentance, and continues throughout the Christian life as we present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). At the point of rejecting our kingdom and pursuing God’s as a living sacrifice, we can begin to take on the image of Christ in our daily lives with a renewed mind.
As Jesus began to teach his disciples in Matthew 5, he established the benchmark for his new followers. Each item in Jesus’ opening remarks to the disciples started with the word “blessed,” communicating to them that their achievement would warrant: “Congratulations! You made it! You are truly blessed!”
So are you ready for the assessment? Are you ready to see how you measure up? Take a moment to read Matthew 5:1-12.
Now, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I realize my spiritual depravity apart from knowing Christ?
- Do I mourn over sin or revel in it?
- Can I be described as gentle and humble?
- Do I hunger and thirst for righteousness?
- Am I compassionate towards all people?
- Are the motives of my heart pure?
- Am I in the business of reconciliation?
- Do I have a faith strong enough to withstand persecution?
- Lastly, is my perspective focused on the kingdom so much so that I can rejoice even in times of hardship?
How’d you do? I’m sure you know now what you need to work on, but fortunately, Christ has equipped you with the goods to accomplish his will. The task is certainly not easy, but through the power of Christ, it is possible!
Press on and be blessed!