What Is A Plumbline In The Bible

A plumbline is generally defined as a weight attached to a line used to determine the verticality of a wall, object or other construction, making a reliable result possible. In the Bible, however, the plumbline is used in an entirely different sense.

The Bible contains a collective vision of what it is to live a righteous life, a life loyal to God. It states that by following his commandments, we are able to maintain our equilibrium and live in harmony. The use of the plumbline as a symbol of this concept can be found in the Old and New Testaments: Throughout history, a plumbline has been a powerful metaphor for the ultimate reference that denotes rightness and wrongness. The Bible speaks of God’s Spirit as rain or a plumbline to measure us.

In Amos 7: 7-8, we find a classic reference to the plumbline: “This is what the Lord showed me: The Lord was standing at a wall built true with a plumb line in his hand. He 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 never again spare them.’” In this passage, the plumbline is used to refer to the moral order, God’s code of conduct – and that is exactly how it is used elsewhere in the Bible. Isaiah 28:17 states, “I will test you with the measuring line of justice/righteousness and the plumb line of equity.” Similarly, Luke 12:56 sharpens the warning with, “You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” As can be seen in this passage, the plumbline is a clear reference to our own judgement of what is right and wrong, of how we judge ourselves and our actions.

In the New Testament too, the plumbline is a symbol of faith – of balancing our lives with Biblical moral grounding – and of seeking justice in imperfection. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus teaches “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” In essence, the plumbline is the measure of our spiritual and moral life; it is the path to leading a good, balanced life.

The plumbline in the Bible carries a complex spiritual and ethical message. It speaks of the ultimate reference point to be our own judgement, and of the need to live a life that is true to the spirit of the bible. To truly appreciate the context and importance of the plumbline in the Bible, it is essential to study it in its entirety to grasp its nuances and nuances of other terms associated with it.

God’s Ideal Measure of Righteousness

The Bible speaks of the need for man to live in harmony with God and as such, the plumbline is a metaphor for the ideal measure of righteousness God calls us to. Scriptures describe this ideal measure in regards to our relationships: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12) – and in regards to our purity: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

The plumbline is an effort to discern right and wrong, based on the absolute standard of love and justice established by God. The strongest indicator of a life lived in line with the plumbline of righteousness is the absence of sin. Romans 13:10 reminds us, “Love does no harm to its neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” As such, if we strive to be a people of pure hearts, free of hypocrisy and untouched by sin, we should live in a way that reflects the standard given to us by God.

Furthermore, the plumbline is ultimately about uplifting the dignity and sanctity of life. We are called to a higher level of living where we are best able to serve God and others: “Rather, let your good deeds flow from a heart of thankfulness as an act of worship and surrender to God.”( Colossians 3:17). By doing what is right and just, humbly and lovingly, we will indeed measure up to God’s plumb line of righteousness.

The Need for Grace and Mercy

However, since no one is without sin, the Bible also speaks of the need for grace and mercy. One of the wondrous things about grace is that it is a bridge that bridges the gap between us (humans) and God. Since we are all equally guilty of sin and in need of redemption, God’s grace is there to help us cope with our weaknesses and wide variety of testing life may bring. His grace is a source of comfort and a reminder that life is an imperfect journey and that we do not have to strive to “measure up” to some idealized version of ourselves.

At the same time, grace shouldn’t be taken as an excuse for us to abdicate responsibility for our actions and behavior. On the contrary, grace provides us with the opportunity for self-correction, a time for soul-searching and reflection. As Romans 6:1 reminds us, “Therefore, do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey its lusts”. It is our duty to use the grace we receive wisely and diligently search for balance instead of falling for the temptation of sin. Remember, the plumbline of righteousness is the reference when it comes to a virtuous and holy life.

Living With Purpose and Integrity

God created you as a unique individual with talents, gifting and destinies to fulfill. He longs to see you make the best of yourself and your life and reveals in the plumbline your purpose—to align your life to righteousness. To live with purpose and to the best of your abilities, you need to place God’s plumbline of righteousness at the center of your life, which means surrendering to His will and embracing the way of holiness.

Therefore, when you choose to align your life to God’s plumbline, it naturally follows that others will also be drawn to your example. Galatians 5:22-23 says: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” When you live out of such a spirit of goodness, people can sense it and it has a way of impacting the atmosphere wherever you go. Your purpose, as well as your joy in life, must always be inseparable from integrating the plumbline. Integrating the plumbline should always be something you consciously try to build into your thought processes, actions, ideologies and the way you perceive the world around you.

Renewing the Mind

The most effective tool when it comes to upholding the plumbline is having a renewed mind — one that believes and is transformed by the scriptures of the Bible. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Renewing the mind by meditating on the Bible’s truths will help you know God better, align your thoughts with His Word and position yourself in a place of righteousness.

For this to happen, verse memorization, daily Bible reading, sermons and Bible study are essential in order to feed your soul with the teachings of His Word and to refresh your vision of life. As mentioned before, the plumbline is a metaphor and so it’s easy to interpret in different ways. The key is to stay grounded in Biblical truths and always seek better understanding of the plumbline’s spiritual message.


We all have the potential within us to live a life that reflects God’s plumbline of righteousness. But doing so requires a commitment to align our lives with His Word and to live according to His standards. Humbly and consistently striving to renew our minds, having a passion for justice, loving others, protecting the vulnerable and allowing grace and mercy to be part of our lives are all essential steps to living according to the plumbline of righteousness.

Marcos Reyna is a Christian author and speaker. He is dedicated to helping create disciples of Christ through spreading the power of the gospel to others. He has written several books and articles on a variety of theological topics, including matters of faith, worship, biblical studies, practical ethics, and social justice. A trained theologian and devotee of spiritual writing, Marcos has a mission to spread Christian love everywhere. He lives with his family in Nashville, TN where he spends his days encouraging others to seek Christ's grace in all things.

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