"The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us", said Pope Francis. He said this to the U.S. Congress last year.

I not quite sure what it means. I'm guessing it probably means "Be nice, or some day it might get to you too." The concept of karma or comeuppance maybe?

Please explain it to me. Thank you!

3 Answers 3


In its literal sense, a yardstick is a measuring rod a yard long, typically divided into inches. But more broadly, it can also be defined as a standard for making a critical judgment or comparison. For example:

Some feel that test scores aren't an adequate yardstick for judging a student's ability.

Ratings are the yardstick by which TV shows are evaluated by networks.

The sentence also states that 'time' will be using this yardstick, which may add a layer of confusion. 'time' is used to establish the when of our judgement - i.e we will be judged in the future. It's similar in concept to the expression 'history will be my judge' - when people in the future look back on my actions now (which will be their history), they will judge whether I was right or wrong.

Therefore, in the sentence you have given, Pope Francis is stating that how we measure others, is how we ourselves will be measured by others, when, in the future, people look back on this moment in time. A similar expression would be 'what goes around, comes around'.



The Pope is paraphrasing Mat 7:1-2—here are 17th-century and 20th-century English translations

AV: 1Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

NAS: 1Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.


These words came not from the Pope, but from a writer in the 15th Century in England. An editor may have added them to an updated version of the Bible in 17thCentury I am disappointed to hear the pope didn't give the credit to the writer who wrote them first It means...when you judge and condemn others That others (and Life itself) will eventually judge us with the same arrogance & self righteousness that we have put upon others Rather to accept others as they are and wish them well

As one girl said..plain & simple...karma!

Metaphor is the most powerful and memorable way to write. It forces our mind to paint a picture with the spoken words, which then reveals the wisdom behind the words Unfortunately much of the beauty of the English language has been whittled away in the quest for speed and instant gratification.

  • "I am disappointed to hear the pope didn't give the credit to the writer who wrote them first" Well, this answer doesn't either. Also, please leave out the unrelated diatribes anent linguistic drift and/or creative writing skills. Grognard sentiments don't explain English, and the use of metaphors is common to language in general. Aug 19, 2018 at 5:30

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