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Live According to a Plumb Line

How do you make decisions?

Are they based on sound and rigid principles that can be replicated again and again?

Or are they whimsical, varying daily dependent on who is asking, personal moods, and who will benefit the most?

Plumb Line

A plumb line is a string with a weight attached to one end.

The plumb line uses gravity to find the straight line from top to bottom. It is exactly vertical.  It doesn’t change or move with the whims of the user.  It remains true at all times.

Tradespeople use plumb lines as an objective tool to keep their work straight and accurate.  With the plumb line, you know what is exactly vertical at all times.  But equally important, when you know vertical, you also know what is exactly horizontal.

A plumb line is used in construction to make sure the things that need to be exactly vertical are vertical.  Buildings, pipes, and fences are examples of things that need to be vertical.  If not constructed according to the plumb line, they will be unstable and risk toppling over.

Now, if you take the weight at the end of the line, pull it back, and release it, you have a pendulum.

A pendulum is essentially worthless because it provides no concrete or useable data.  It swings back and forth with only the earth’s gravity to slow the swinging until it completely stops, and you again have a plumb line.

Plumb Line in Business

We all make many daily decisions.  Most are insignificant, but a few are life-impacting.  Regardless, each decision is based on something.

For example, what you ate for breakfast was based on something.  It could have been considerations for health and nutrition.  It could have been the need for adequate sustenance for the rest of the day.  Or it could have been based on a set time constraint.

Big decisions are also based on set processes and factors.

Hiring new employees is based on interviews, input from others, and future workload.  Changing banks is based on a level of dissatisfaction compared to a list of new offerings, improved convenience, and a promise for better service.

Businesses have mission statements, values statements, and policies and procedures to follow in making decisions.  Likewise, individuals have personal goals, preferences, ingrained ethics, and hereditary values that come into play when faced with decisions.

These constitute your plumb line.

Problems arise, however, when your plumb line becomes a pendulum.

Personal decisions then vary depending on your commitment to your goals.  Your values fluctuate depending on your bank account.  And your willingness to walk away from ingrained ethics is dependent on the company you are with.

Businesses have problems when employment decisions are dependent on favoritism.  Reputations suffer when a smaller, less lucrative ongoing client’s project takes a back seat when a larger, one-time highly-profitable project shows up.  And enthusiasm and motivation at work suffer when the corporate values cease to be emphasized.

Pendulums are worthless until they become plumb lines.

The Bible

Perhaps the reliance on electronics and the passing of the need to use “old-fashioned” tools such as a plumb line has taken us away from understanding the value of the plumb line metaphor.  However, the Bible indeed relies on a plumb line.

Amos 7:7–8 says,

“This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand.  And the Lord asked me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ ‘A plumb line,’ I replied.  Then the Lord said, ‘Look, I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.’”

When God said He was setting a plumb line among His people, He was declaring an end to their attempts to justify their crooked ways.  The Lord was setting the standard, and God does not negotiate His laws.  He does not change with the whims of culture (Numbers 23:19).

God establishes plumb lines, not pendulums.

God’s moral law is the plumb line against which we determine right and wrong (John 17:17).  Just as a carpenter’s plumb line is not subject to the worker’s opinions or frustration (and so becomes a pendulum), God’s moral standards are not subject to man’s opinions.

Wise business people are those who line up their lives according to God’s plumb line rather than trying to move it to satisfy their own agendas.

Follow God’s instructions and live according to a plumb line.

Successful business people and entrepreneurs follow a plumb line in all their decision-making. 

Have you established your plumb line?