In the popular film, A Knight’s Tale, Count Adhemar’s (Rufus Sewell) says to William Thatcher (Heath Ledger) during a jousting competition, “You have been weighed; you have been measured; and you have been found wanting.” This is a paraphrase from the Old Testament of the Bible (Daniel 5:27), which reads, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” Count Adhemar’s disdain for Thatcher was based on two things: jealousy and prejudice (as Thatcher was posing as a knight of noble decent, when indeed he was a peasant). I have felt the sting of variations of this phrase in my own life. Perhaps you have, too.
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YOU HAVE BEEN WEIGHED
To be weighed is to be placed on the scale. It is a reference to value. I remember when I was little and went with my dad to the hardware store. They had one of those old-fashioned scales on which to weigh items in order to price them (value). I specifically recall his buying nails by the pound. The clerk would pour some nails into a shallow bowl-like container suspended by a chain, and then place weights on the opposite container. He had weighed the nails and determined a value.
I have felt like I have been weighed by others. They evaluate me, and determine a worth based on their perception. Sometimes this has been a good thing; they have found me worthy. But there have been hurtful times when I have felt the shame of disappointment and the agony of rejection. Some people have found me to be of little or no worth. This is especially painful when I personally value the one rejecting me.
YOU HAVE BEEN MEASURED
While measuring, like weighing, determines something’s value, it is also a way to gauge something’s or someone’s effectiveness. When we hear someone say, “He is a bigger man than I am,” one person has been measured by the other. Sometimes this is expressed negatively, like when someone says, “You’ll never fill your daddy’s shoes,” or, “Why can’t you be more like your brother?” Being measured by another person is an intimidating and daunting thing. Most of us, at least secretly, wonder, “Will I ever measure up?”
YOU HAVE BEEN FOUND WANTING
Having been weighed and measured, how did we do? Did we make the grade? Did we live up to other’s expectations? Or did we fail the test? Did we let someone down? Did we come up short? When we compare ourselves to others, or allow others to, we have entered into a game we cannot win. We have set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. There will always be someone better, faster, smarter, prettier, richer, or more popular. But there is another, better way to weigh and measure yourself.
BY A HIGHER STANDARD
When it is all said and done, there are only two opinions that really matter: yours, and God’s. And God has already decided to measure us in a different way. Having fallen short of His glory, we have access to His grace and mercy to help us become a new person. A better person. A person who pleases Him. And if you please Him, how does winning an Oscar or Nobel Peace Prize or promotion at work make any difference?
But you also must weigh and measure yourself compared to you. Be in competition with no one but yourself. If you are better today than yesterday, you win. If you have grown personally since last year, you win. If you have learned a new skill or idea, overcome an obstacle, helped a person in need, or improved a valued relationship, you win. Concentrate on becoming a new you, and let the opinions of everyone else merely give you insight, not define who you are.
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And at the end of the day, if you can look at the man or woman in the mirror and see someone you are proud of, someone who has made some progress, someone who isn’t where they want to be, but sure are not where they were, you have been found not wanting.