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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Jeremiah 35:12-14 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: Go and tell the people of Judah and those living in Jerusalem, ‘Will you not learn a lesson and obey my words?’ declares the Lord. ‘Jehonadab son of Rekab ordered his descendants not to drink wine and this command has been kept. To this day they do not drink wine, because they obey their forefather’s command. But I have spoken to you again and again, yet you have not obeyed me.”
Psalm 78:70-72 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.
Jeremiah 23:20-22 The anger of the Lord will not turn back until he fully accomplishes the purposes of his heart. In days to come you will understand it clearly. I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.