Chapter 1: The Just Weight of Truth
A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight. Solomon
Solomon, a man who is scripturally considered to be one of the wisest men who ever lived, authored three books in the Old Testament. Proverbs, one of the three books attributed to him, states this purpose: To know wisdom and instruction; to perceive the words of understanding; to receive instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgement, and equity; to give subtilty to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise and their dark sayings (Pr.1:2-6). A plausible summary of Solomon’s purpose for the book of Proverbs could be stated as: the search for the righteous balance in life.
The quotation at the beginning of this chapter is from the book of Proverbs: A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is his delight (Pr.11:1). Solomon shares this thought three different times in this book (Pr.11:1; 16:11; 20:23), with slight variations, but all emphasizing the point that we must have a just weight on the scales. This alludes to the scales where a measured weight was placed on one side of the scale and then whatever was to be measured placed on the other. The measured weights were added until the scale was completely balanced. Fraud could be committed if the one in charge of the scales assigned less or more weight to the weight than it actually had, thereby defrauding the seller. The unjust weights were an abomination because they represented false justice. However, a just weight is a delight. A just weight represents righteous judgement.
Another proverb of Solomon’s explains: Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life (Pr. 4:23). The heart, in scripture, often refers to the ‘seat of our affections’. Whatever gains access to our heart becomes a weight that we use in the scales of justice and judgment in our personal choices. Therefore, we must guard our heart against all deceit. A deceitful weight will cause us to defraud ourselves.
When fraudulent measures are used by those in authority it undermines trust in the system. Consequently, there must be a standard of Truth.
The standard of Truth cannot be arbitrarily applied. The current social paradigm of ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’, as applied to careers within our society, has not been founded on a factual foundation. The standard was created without foundational merit. Compounding the problem, the standard has been arbitrarily applied and arbitrarily enforced. Instead of a just standard, what has emerged is the concept of everyone being able to choose their version of ‘truth’. I use this word in its broadest sense; because, in this context, it does not mean factual, rather it implies a mode of processing information. The just weight of Truth is the only factual balance that can be set in the scales which provides a just evaluation of any given situation.
In order to comprehend the need for the just weight of Truth, we must first examine the influences which result in a balanced soul and an imbalanced soul. Those influences are described by Jesus as leaven. In the context of the scriptures, leaven can be defined as: a pervasive influence that modifies or transforms. Leaven, in the form of yeast, is placed in dough and through a bacterial process the dough becomes chemically altered which causes the dough to rise. Jesus used the illustration that the Kingdom of Heaven is likened unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal until the whole was leavened (Mt.13:33). Jesus describes his doctrine as leaven because it has a transformative power. When it is accepted by an individual and put into practice it will completely alter the essence of a person, transforming their character. Jesus understood the power of leaven, consequently he explained that there are multiple forms of leaven, or rather, there are multiple spirits that can transform the essence of an individual’s character.
Even though leaven is used by Jesus as a descriptor for the spirit of Truth, Jesus also warns his disciples about two forms of leaven that will transform our lives for the worse: the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the leaven of Herod.
Leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees
One form of leaven is the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, Jesus began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed: neither hid that shall not be known (Lk.12:1-2). The leaven of hypocrisy produces a spirit of self-righteousness. The leaven of hypocrisy gave the Pharisees the idea that they could maintain the appearance of righteousness without the spirit of Truth. Jesus was very direct in his condemnation of that form of leaven. Jesus through the testimony of his life and words revealed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. By speaking Truth, Jesus revealed the evil of their hearts. This was ultimately manifested in the united desire of the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees when they sought the death of Jesus.
When Jesus initially warned his disciples about the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, the disciples mistook his warning as a condemnation that they had not brought sufficient bread to eat. Jesus said unto his disciples, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, he said unto them, O ye of little faith, why reason ye among yourselves, because ye have brought no bread? Do ye not understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets took ye up? Neither the seven loaves and the four thousand, and how many baskets took ye up? How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees (Mt.16:6-12). In this warning Jesus lumps the two religious sects of the Jews together and warns his disciples to beware of the leaven of false doctrine. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were sects within the Jewish tradition, they had the same scripture as their foundation but chose to focus on different aspects of the scripture. The Sadducees denied the existence of the Spirit of God and they did not believe in the promise of the resurrection of the dead or eternal judgement. Perhaps a safe way to think about the Sadducees is as secular Jews. They respected their traditions as a culture and appreciated the benefits that the law had cultivated within their society, but they denied the divine element of their faith. The Pharisees, on the other hand, believed both in the Spirit and the resurrection. They upheld the law to the letter, but as Jesus stated they overlooked the weightier matters of the law; judgment, mercy and faith (Mt.23:23).
On multiple occasions Jesus addressed the Pharisees and condemned them for their hypocrisy. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and of the platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Mt.23:23-28). The leaven of the Pharisees is a transformative power that leaves its victims filled with self-righteousness and death. By focusing on the outward appearance, this leaven deceptively portrayed a form of truth, but all who possessed it or those who were ensnared by it were filled with death.
Returning to the thought of the scales, the leaven of hypocrisy produces an unjust weight which could be labeled the weight of self righteousness. Aside from being arbitrary it is unilateral, and consequently it can never be justly applied to others. The transformation it produces is an imbalance in judgment, that Jesus accurately described as death, a whited sepulchre filled with dead men’s bones. This is the result of hypocrisy.
The Leaven of Herod
The leaven of Herod is quite the opposite. The Herod’s were the ruling family in Israel under the Roman Empire. A more current interpretation would be, beware of the leaven of politics. This is an idea that we are very familiar with given our current political landscape. This leaven produces an overemphasis on the collective, to the point where our method of processing information is controlled by the collective. Carl Jung in his book, The Undiscovered Self, describes quite accurately the consequence of group think. Paraphrasing Jung’s explanation, the group creates a party line, a symbol, and a leader which unifies the body. Individual comprehension of any given situation is averted and all individuals within the group promote the singular interpretation of the leader. This happens on a varied scale, thereby adding a layer of deceit to the process. If a group was standing before its leader and responding to everything the leader said in cultish fashion, repeating the party line, any outside observer would find the scene very suspect. This is the power of manipulation that exists within the leaven of politics. There is a definition of politics by Ambrose Bierce in his book, The Devil’s Dictionary, that I find both humorous and accurate: Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and then applying the wrong remedy.
The leaven of Herod has a subtle approach. People that are under its influence have a multitude of responses to any given situation; however all of those answers are products of filtering the information through the mechanism of their group. Concerning politics, regardless of the situation, we know what the parties involved will say. Perhaps not specifically the words but the underlying message, because that message is constant. A constant stance is a dead weight not a just weight. There is no room for thought, growth, consideration, or new ideas. The leaven of Herod is comparable to stagnant water, even though stagnant water has the appearance of water, it is poisonous and unsafe to drink. One reason for stagnation is the lack of interchange. A result of the leaven of Herod is the division between the parties. Just as the Sadducees and Pharisees could not agree on points of doctrine, party divisions within government also refuse to have interchange resulting in stagnation.
The leaven of politics gives a person the feeling of being part of something bigger than themselves. It calls for sacrifice, service, and a committed life; but, when the foundation is based on the exertion of power rather than cooperative agreement the foundation shifts to manipulation. The leaven of politics begins with the intent of gaining power and continues with the purpose of maintaining power. The objective determines the foundation, the building blocks and the tools. When the objective is power then free thought is a danger that must be monitored. The party members must feel like they are free thinking. The way to achieve that is by giving them a paradigm, a weight to place in the balance of the scale; which allows them to think and yet sill be controlled by the collective. If the collective has chosen the weight then the individual ceases to exist in the true form. The result of the leaven of Herod is division.
• A personal note as an American
I am an American. I have lived in other countries, and seen different forms of government, social structures, and economic approaches. Each time when I return home I am thankful to be an American.
The last 14 years marked a notable shift in the historical standards of what this country used to refer to as “family values”. Time and time again my thoughts are directed back to what Jesus said when questioned: Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no? But Jesus perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me? Show me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar’s. And Jesus said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s (Lk.20:22-25).
The founders of our nation wisely legalized the separation of church and state. At the founding of our nation one of the objectives was to create a nation with religious freedom. As time has passed the issue of religious liberty has confronted a wall of non-belief, or apathy, which has altered the discussion surrounding the separation of church and state. Our political heritage had close ties to Christian thought, consequently many of our laws, and the social framework of our society derives from scripture. As our nation moves away from that, we as Christians become increasingly alarmed.
However, the separation of church from state still stands even when we view the state moving away from its Christian heritage. We Christians have been historical benefactors of a political state that for many years aligned with our spiritual convictions. The state has never been perfect, but the ideals set forth are ones that we espouse to believe as Christians, and consequently, as Americans. As the beliefs among our citizenry change, and social shifts create division along spiritual lines, the reality of the separation of church and state hits home in a new way for our community. The spiritual implications and social consequences of this shift are a topic for another discussion, but it is a discussion that should be had both in the realm of the church and the state.
The concept of individual liberty, as per our Constitution, allowed for these shifts in social thought. The legal position of a ‘non-traditional family’, ‘recreational drug use’, or ‘gender dysphoria’ (to mention a few) should be talking points in both realms: the “church” and the “state”. Both the church and the state must individually determine their stance on the issues, the church by using the Holy Bible, and the state by using the Constitution. The conclusions from one area cannot necessarily be used in the other, because they are using separate texts to arrive at their conclusions. Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.
I am not a politician. My personal convictions direct me to certain conclusions. As a citizen I acknowledge that these are separate areas. The government must represent the people, rightfully protecting individual liberty insofar as it does not harm the collective.
Our christian belief is that God is the giver of life. If we render to God what is God’s then ‘our life’, which is His, is under His control. I am very aware that many people do not agree with that in principle. Jesus also was aware of that as evidenced by his answer that acknowledged the distinction between God and government.
The Just Weight
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, during his confirmation hearing was asked for his opinion on the Supreme Court’s role in maintaining the balance of power. I found his answer to be very insightful. He answered: “The Supreme Court is not perfect because it is infallible, it is perfect because it’s final.” In order for justice to be assured there must be some body or being that has the final word. In the case of our government that final word resides with our judiciary in the Supreme Court, who are tasked to apply the Constitution as the paradigm by which all cases are settled. As individuals we also need that.
The situations that arise in life are complicated because life is complex, and yet Truth is simple. The leaven of Truth can be applied to a complex problem. Complex problems require multiple step solutions. The first step is diagnosing the problem. This is the most difficult stage. The correct diagnosis provides the starting point for treatment, and step by step progress is made. The leaven of Truth works that way. Jesus said, the kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid into three measures of meal, until the whole was leavened (Mt.13:33). The leaven of Truth diagnoses the falsity that is in our life and step by step it permeates our being: mind, body and soul, until every aspect of our being has been affected.
It is essential in life that we learn there is an authority who has the final say. For children, that authority should be the parents. As an adult it should be a mature conscience. Eternally, it is the infallible Judge of the Heavens and the Earth. Returning to Justice Gorsuch’s thought, he implied that human authority can be perfect in its finality and yet still be fallible. Ultimately that means that injustice can reach a point where it is beyond appeal, displaying the weakness inherent with human judgment.
The leaven of Truth is the just weight, and Truth will hold our lives in balance. On a spiritual, familial, professional, and social level we can find balance in Truth. When the pandemic prompted the shut down, busyness stopped, and we were given time to think. That type of contemplation is uncomfortable, but it produces questions that we should ask ourselves: What is essential? What must I do to fulfill my obligations to others and to myself? What is essential beyond obligation? What aspects of my life, if they are neglected, leave me feeling out of balance?
The just weight of Truth must be sought individually. This is where we must delve off into a purely Spiritual explanation. The just weight is Truth. What does that mean? In part it means searching for Truth with the awareness that Truth is divine. Truth abides as leaven within the kingdom of Heaven.
The description of leaven indicates the transformative power of this process and simultaneously warns us that there are multiple influences which can transform our lives. The leaven of the Pharisees focuses on creating a false impression in the mind of others regarding ourselves. This is hypocrisy. The leaven of Herod simultaneously swallows the individual, making him a cog within the machine of the collective, and divides the collective into combative parties. This is the leaven of politics. Truth is the leaven of the kingdom of heaven. When Truth is the just weight it allows for righteous judgement. The just weight of Truth is ‘essential’.
The purpose of this www.thefellowshipoftruth.com is to provide information about a non-denominational network of home-based churches that can be found in nearly every country of the world. We are imperfect people trying hard to fulfil the plan that God has laid out for each one of us. We do our best to follow the teachings of the Bible at home, work and in the place of worship. The format and structure are Bible based and very similar to what we read about the early church in Acts and I Corinthians (Acts 1:13 and I Cor 16:19.) Each week we meet in homes for fellowship and worship on Sunday mornings and Bible studies on Wednesday nights. From time to time, we also have larger Gospel services where multiple home-based churches meet together. These meetings serve to strengthen the faith of the believers, and also, help to explain our beliefs to those who are being introduced to our faith for the first time.