The Measure of A Man
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the full of Christ – Ephesians 4:13
In this age of classification and standardization of things, when tall pine and hardwood trees are yielding to the stroke of the stockman to put to humming the ceaseless wheels of industry; and the hills, plains, and valleys are bedecked with stately mansions, skyscrapers, barn tops and bungalow cottages; when every brick and every stone in every building must be molded or hewn out by a gauge when every threat in every garment must be woven true to form; when we realize that we are living on a tailor-made earth, measured by a tapeline of Divine scrutiny, let us agree that man, too, if he is to full his place and serve the lofty purpose for which he was created, must be measured by a gauge.
As there are so many faint and false ideas in the field of human speculation, I shall endeavor first to regulate your thinking by presenting the negative side of the picture, or by reminding you of some things by which man should not be measured:
A man should not be measured exclusively by his knowledge of books. It is good to learn the literature of the nations of the earth, of course, but I wish to declare to you that we do not get it all from books. Remember that to the logically observant and those of inquiring minds, there is nothing insignificant and nothing little. Every object that steps in human gaze holds a lesson for mankind.
A Match Head: Wrapped in a little ignition point known as a match head, may be the destruction of a city, if trusted in careless hands; but if handled by a careful or constructive hands, it may become the warmth or comfort of a city.
A Mustard Seed: In an illustration of a grain of mustard seed, the smallest seed in the vegetable kingdom, was described the beginning, growth and progress of the greatest kingdom known to mankind.
The Earthworm: The earthworm is not only used for fish bait, but its perpetual motion makes it an invisible plow hand, pulverizing and opening the pores of the earth for the sun rays to deposit oxygen for the vegetation to transmit it into the bodies of man and beast.
Death on the Point of a Tack: The careful eye discerns death on the point of a little tack, therefore, removes it by sweeping the driveway from the garage to the street, thus, preventing the death a family from a blowout on the highway.
A Little Pebble: A little pebble, from the hand of a little baby thrown into the sea may form a little circle of water into a tide, push it out to meet a ship and cause its mast pole to kiss the bosom of the water. This, you can see that the field for great lessons from even little objects, is almost unlimited.
Not by his physical stature. There is such thing as much brawn but little brain. Let that statement be sufficient.
Not by the size of one’s bank account, as so many have proven by their unwise use of their wealth. Let that too be sufficient.
Not by the color of the skin. Far too many people are suffering these days from skin troubles. If others choose to remain ignorant of the facts or to cultivate false ideas on this point, I would have you know that there is an all-out effort being put forth to convince the dark skin people that superiority or inferiority is not a matter of pigmentation. And real manhood is not measured by the color of the skin or the grade of the hair. Hence, I declared in my original poem that “The Negro Is a Man.” I also declare it through my life.
BY WHAT THEN SHOULD HE BE MEASURED?
By the depth of his knowledge. I do not mean the mere scratching of the surface in agriculture, or the moisture that supports the roots of the plant life, not should we stop with the strata of the rock, or the needle of the geologist, who punctures the veins of the earth, causing it to heave up petroleum, mineral and ore, but we should go deep enough in knowledge to find the name of the proper one on the cornerstone of creation. In the light of the Bible account of the creation of all things, that name is God.
Man should be measured by the breadth of his interest, which represents an unselfish program and spirit of love, broad enough to include everybody everywhere. Selfishness if littleness. The man who prayed “Oh! My God ! (As if he owned a whole God to himself). Bless men, my wife, our son Joe, his wife, we found and no more, Amen,” is a narrow man, praying narrow prayer, be he white or black.
By the height of his ideal. It is alright to emulate the traits of great earthly characters, but we much not place our standards too low. The tallest man on earth is still short when measured by the sky. We have had our attention focused on the ink trails of many nobles’ characters and named our children for certain earthly heroes for they represent the height of our ambition. Some of my friends who heard my message in the Baptist World Alliance in Europe and the National Convention message which after, “Chambers, you are my ideal.” I appreciate the compliment, but it is rather risky to make me or anyone else on earth the height of your ideal. When I was elected president of our State Convention, some said, “It is our hope that you will be the second L.K. Williams in our state, our nation and our world.” I appreciate this and regard L.K. as a worthy example, but I do not want to be the world’s second anybody, I want to be God’s first and only T.M. Chambers, making my contribution in an effort to reach the record of the highest.
When sin had become science and vice was consecrated as a part of religion, rebellion had struck its roots deeply into the hearts of men and the hostility of man was vile against heaven. It was evident that apart from God, humanity could not be uplifted, and a new element of power had to be imparted by Him, who made the world. The un-fallen worlds were waiting and watching to see Jehovah arise and sweep them into oblivion. The fast westerly sun was lingering on nature’s treetops; angels were bubbling over to avert the doom of guilty citizenry. The Angel of Mercy was folding up her wings to step down from the golden throne and make space for justice and swift coming judgment, but my ideal deferred the Council of the Holy Trinity and organized an angelic host to furnish music while the glory of His father flooded the hills of Bethlehem. He stepped on a heavenly made airplane and rode down into the low ground of sorrow, leaped into Virgin Mary and was born one day in the city of David, wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger.
Would you like to know His name? People are so forgetful, I would rather write it. Not on the ground, because the winds might blow trash on it or men walk over it without noticing it. I would not write it in the sky, because some people are not upward looking, they would walk beneath it face downward and never see it. I would not write it on the walls of a ruler’s palace, because only the world’s great ones could be admitted to see it. I would not write it on pearls, for the scarcity of pearls has so increased their value that none could have it but millionaires. I would not write it on money, for the rich would live and the poor would die, jobs often being scarce. I would not write it on paper, because grandmama did not go to school and the children are living too fast to stop and read it to her.
I tell you what I would do: I would rock people to sleep with a spiritual anesthetic, perform an operation on the left bosom with a sharp sword of God and lay bare the heart. Then I would dip my pen in a fountain of blood drawn from Emanuel’s veins, I mean blood shed forth for man on Calvary, and I would write it down in the heart where people could read it at midnight and even when shut in by distress or imprisoned by circumstances. What would I write? The name is Jesus.
Moses and Elias were great characters on the Mount of Transfiguration, but after Peter, James and John were dazed by heaven’s majesty, they lifted up their eyes and saw no man save “Jesus only.” Oh, do you know him?