Measure Twice, Cut Once

Posted on: July 6th, 2014

The title to this article is a well-known rule among carpenters and craftsmen. I recall seeing this in action when Bobby Schultz helped build my parents’ house. He did some of the framing in the basement. He would measure the length of the space, either write it down or say it out loud, and then put his measuring tape in his pocket. He would then again measure the space. If the numbers were different he would measure a third time. If the measure was the same then he would cut the board. I don’t recall Bobby having to re-cut a board or throw one away.

This got me to thinking about God’s word and the need to measure, to “measure twice, and cut once.”

Just as there is a correct measurement in building something, there is a correct answer with God’s word. The problem is when people decide to start “cutting” without making sure they are doing what is proper with God.

In Daniel 5 we read of Belshazzar the king of Babylon having a great party. He decided to get some of the vessels taken from the temple in Jerusalem. “They drank wine, and praised the gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone” Daniel 5:4. It was then a hand appeared before them. The hand wrote, “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin.” No one knew what it meant except Daniel. When called before the king and his companions, Daniel interpreted the words,

“God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it. You have weighed in the balances, and found wanting. Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians” Daniel 5:26-28.

I wonder how many live their lives without regard to God’s word and will be found wanting on the Day of Judgment? Just as a wise carpenter measures before cutting, so should we look to God’s word before we make important decisions.

Also, you can’t un-cut a board. Sometime after my parents’ house was finished, they decided to have some cabinets installed in the basement. As I was watching the installers, one said, “I cut that board twice and it is still too short!” He was joking but there is an important point there. Some things cannot be undone.

Yes, you can ask for forgiveness and pray to do better in the future, but sins sometimes have consequences in this life. The murderer can obey the Gospel, but he must still pay the penalty for his crime. The wayward child of God may wise up before it is too late and come back to God, but he can’t undo the harm he has caused in his “riotous living.”

Parents often wish they had served God while their children were being brought up, but those informative years, once gone are gone. The consequences of bad parenting are often rebellious and ungodly children.

Many a tear has been shed by a parent realizing only too late the damage they did by not bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4. We need to make sure we are doing the right things before we make our “cuts.”

Checking twice catches a lot of wrong measurements. Regena and I installed a floor in the basement. It was interesting how we helped to double check each other. One day we were having a particularly hard time cutting the materials for a section in the kitchen. It looked pretty straight forward as to the measurements and cuts. But we had to throw away a number of boards. The length was wrong or the width was wrong. One time Regina measured the space and then the boards. I double checked before making the cut and found her measurements to be off. (In fairness I had my share of OPS too).

The problem is we often make the same mistakes the second time we measure things. So it goes with the word of God. Yes, we need to double check the Bible to make sure it says what we think it says. But it helps to ask someone else to see if they are getting the same answer. The people at Berea searched the scriptures daily to see whether the things taught by Paul was correct, Acts 17:11. Paul had to confront Peter on one occasion due to his hypocrisy in Galatians 2.

Preachers often invite the audience to open their Bibles and turn to the passages read so as to make sure the preacher is not misquoting a verse. Even honest people make mistakes, and pointing out their error is what they want and need.

No one should ever want to be wrong. Therefore, measuring twice, and cutting once is a good rule for the carpenter, and the child of God.

Dennis Tucker


Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.