Standards are a touchy topic, but standards are absolutely necessary in life. There are many ways to define standards, but I will over-simplify them into two groups: 1) Godliness-driven standards, and 2) Uniformity-driven standards.
1) Godliness-driven standards would include boundaries on the type of places I would go (stores, restaurants, etc.) and the entertainment I would participate in (movies, music, sports, etc.). These are external barriers that help me fight for godliness in my life. Lounges, derogatory perverse music, and blatant immodesty are all environments that will impede my heart’s pursuit of purity. I separate from these things because they are causing me to draw away from holiness. Separation then is the pipe by which the water of holiness can flow. It is a conduit for holy living, not the substance of holiness.
2) Uniformity-driven standards are often misrepresented and misunderstood. These standards are simply a set of barriers that establish uniformity. This standard would be best illustrated by the types of clothes we wear(in school – khakis and polo; on the basketball court – jersey and shorts; at McDonald’s – that black shirt with the red armpits) and the type of haircuts we get (most typically by everyone in culture, believer or unbeliever: for guys - a neat, short hair cut, for ladies – longer flowing hair). Uniformity-driven standards generally only pertain to godliness in that your personal growth in holiness and Christlikeness will be impeded if you do not submit to the uniformity standard laid out by your authority (boss, principal, parent, etc.).
At the end of the book of Nehemiah, Nehemiah cleanses the city of Jerusalem and especially the temple. His desire was to establish the standards that God desired for holy living in Jerusalem. His standards were strict, but they were designed to help the people live in godliness.
Four hundred years later, Jesus shows up to save the people of this city. Many are living in sin, but many more are living in self-righteousness.
You see, standards are absolutely necessary, but standards must be explained. Somewhere along the line, the Pharisees received the rule, but did not get the deeper truths. They saw themselves as holy and righteous based upon their keeping of personal standards, but Christ told them that their holiness must go deeper than the standards. Their actions were necessary, but they were also pointless without inward holiness.
Question your standards. Know why you do what you do. Define what the standard is. Then try to categorize it into godliness-driven or uniformity-driven. Then fight for godliness in your life. Remember standards are the conduit to holiness, they are not the end of it. Don’t let the ritualistic take the place of inward holiness.
Food For Thought: Write out five standards that you have in your family. Categorize them as “godliness-driven” or “uniformity-driven.” Ask dad and mom if you get hung up.