Our scripture this week is Matthew 5:13-20.
For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
How righteous is righteous enough? Jesus tells us the bar is high, that we must outperform even the leaders of the faith. This sounds pretty hard until we realize that God has the same expectations for all of us.
The Pharisees and teachers of the law Jesus uses as a standard were extremely involved in the study of God’s commandments and their application in everyday life. However, their way of living out the law was often expressed by pointing out the wrongdoing of others and ensuring the proper penalty was applied. Jesus tells us this misses the intent God has for us.
Jesus said the teachings of the law and the Prophets would not pass away (Matthew 5:18), that these were commandments from our constant and unchanging God. Jesus wants us to understand these from our hearts, that we might live them out in love rather than unfeeling application, from a relationship with God instead of fear of punishment or rebuke.
Loving Lord, help us to see that living under Your law for us is a blessing, not a burden. Show us how to use the gift of Your word to order our lives in obedience and love for You. Amen.