Daily D – Matthew 5:20
For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.
MATTHEW 5:20 (CSB)
How to Be Better Than Good was the handbook of the scribes and Pharisees. They had a much-better-than-average knowledge of what we call the Old Testament. They were experts in translation and memorization. If God said, “Give me an inch,” they responded with a mile. They were better than good. They were so good that no common man or woman could compare. They were theological elites.
Jesus was not impressed.
Jesus knew a thing or two about the Old Testament. However, he did not err on the side of legalism. Neither did he err on the side of siding with the devil by saying things like, “Did God really say . . .?” Nope. He knew what God said and what God meant. He should have. He was, and is, after all, God With Us.
Jesus points out again and again in his ministry that doing good is better than looking good. The scribes and Pharisees were so focused on looking good that they missed actually doing good. They even made up reasons not to do good so that they would look like they were really, really good. See Matthew 15:1-9 for examples.
Jesus said the way to be good, really good, the kind of good that makes you right with God is to know what God said, understand what he meant, and do what he says. Know, understand, do. Never settle for know, misunderstand, and appear.
The Bible is a treasure chest full of riches. It shapes and reshapes and refines our lives into the beautiful artwork our Father in heaven always imagined (Ephesians 2:10). We abuse the Bible when we use it to exalt us over others. The Bible drives us to serve others in love, not to humiliate them with hate.
Know what God says. Understand what he means. Do what he says.
God’s Word does not make us proud; it makes us pure. It does not make us mean; it makes us kind. It does not make us holier than thou; it makes humbler than others.
Surpassing righteousness comes from joining God in his work of soul redemption, renovation, and restoration and doing so without a pocket applause meter.
I will know what God says, understand what he means, and join him in turning the world right-side up.
Our Father, please turn me right-side up as often as necessary so that I may join you in your work of redemption, renovation, and restoration. Deliver me from the need to look good and to enjoy the applause of my peers. Empower me to know and live in full alignment with the truth you have lovingly preserved for us in the Bible. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.