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Testing, testing: Parable of the pigs and the scale

By Brent Beasley | Published Saturday, May 4, 2013

The farmer wants his pigs to be fat. Of course he does. The fatter the better.

He became concerned when he realized that, even though he fed them all the same, some pigs were fatter than others. The problem, he concluded, was that he wasn’t weighing the pigs enough. So he began to weigh the pigs a few times a year. Still, while some of the pigs were getting plenty fat, many of them were still skinny or, at least, not fat enough.

The farmer decided that the best thing to do to solve the problem would be to weigh them again and again throughout the year. So, the farmer invested a lot of his resources in weighing. He developed new types of scales. He began keeping complicated records of the pigs’ weights. He devised a system where he could compare the weights of the pigs not just individually but between each different pen and also based on what color each pig was.

All the while, the pigs weren’t getting any fatter. The only thing that seemed to be getting fatter was the wallet of the scale-maker.

So, the farmer added more weigh-ins. And in the days and weeks leading up to each weigh-in, he held practice weigh-ins for the pigs.

One day, the pigs were looking longingly at the food piled up around their pens. “No time to waste sitting around eating!” he said. “I need you to practice weighing. Here are some tips on how to make yourself seem heavier.” The only weigh-in strategy that seemed to help at all was eating a good breakfast.

But even on the days that one particular group of pigs wasn’t weighing-in or practicing weighing-in, the farmer didn’t like them to eat. Pigs are noisy eaters, you know. They might disturb the others who are weighing-in or practicing weighing-in. Besides, there was no one to feed them, anyway. All the workers on the farm were overseeing the weighing of the pigs or the practicing of the weighing of the pigs in some of the other pens, so the pigs that weren’t being weighed or practicing being weighed were herded over to one particular area and told to sit still, be quiet and wait.

After the last weigh-in of the year, everybody relaxed. But the pigs wondered, “Why bother to eat now, if we aren’t going to even be weighed anymore?” The farmer told them that the weighing was only to help them get fatter.

But the pigs didn’t believe him. They knew that the scale was much more important than the food. They knew that it’s the weighing that makes a pig fatter. They had been taught that well.

Brent Beasley is the senior pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth. Used by permission.

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