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Measure Twice, Saw Once

There is an old saying (dare I say, “old saw”?) which apparently comes from the trade of carpentry. It speaks to the need to be meticulous and careful in the sawing of wood and other materials. To conserve both material and energy, it is urged that a worker, whether trained carpenter or hobbyist, should “measure twice and saw once.” It is very easy to imagine and picture someone in a hurry, who either has to go back and cut off more of the length of the material, or who has to scrap the original piece and cut another one. Time, energy and money can be saved (most of the time) by merely measuring twice and sawing once.

The principle of the phrase is that we need to take extreme care in the approach of the event. A tape measure is employed and measurements are taken. Questions are consciously/subconsciously asked: “Is the measuring tape accurate?”; “Did I place the tape properly, at both ends?”; “Did I read the measurement correctly?”

The principle is easily carried over into one’s everyday life as well as their spiritual life. Important life decisions such as college to attend, job and whom to marry, all will be made whether we apply the “measure twice” principle or not. However, if we proceed in these important decisions with the extreme caution portrayed in that principle, we will lessen our chances of failure.

When one fails with these life choices, the consequences involve so much more than time, energy and money. Poorly-thought-out choices during ones’ college years can come back to haunt that person. Time, energy and money can be spent in great quantities as one is trying to recover from not “measuring twice.” Likewise, the choice of a mate can be enhanced by taking the time to “measure twice.” Samson made a poor decision when he announced to his parents that he had found someone to marry and that the decision was made basically upon the fact that “she looks good to me” (Judges 14:3 NASB).

Paul prays for the Philippian Christians, “that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may be pure and blameless in the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9, 10 ESV). The words “knowledge and all discernment” amount to what I call “measuring twice.” There is a word describing what happens when you don’t—REGRET.

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