Exact Obedience

I’m occasionally bemused by the exactitude of signage. Here is the speed limit when one drives about Burnley’s Coal Clough Windfarm. Quite why they did not round it up to 20mph, I cannot say.

Here is a Give Way sign at Lothersdale, commanding motorists to stop and wait for a gap in 82 yards. Not 80, not 90, but 82. Presumably, some council surveyor measured out the exact yardage from the position of the signpost to the actual junction. He chose not to round it down. He wished to be precise.

We are so used to rounding up, rounding down, being approximate, offering generality. Although there is a danger of pedantry and pettiness, we should seek to be honest in the little things as well as the big. A little exaggeration here, a little underemphasis there, and we are not as honest as we ought to be. Before offering evidence in courts of law, one must swear or affirm to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. In 1 Samuel 15, the prophet rebukes King Saul for his careless and casual interpretation of God’s expressed will and requirements. He says

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,

And to heed than the fat of rams.

Not only must we be precise in our Christian living, but our submission to God’s truth must be as careful and scrupulous. God seeks faithfulness in His service, not imaginative improvisation or clever reinterpretation of His words.