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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Psalm 147:10, 11 He is not impressed by the strength of a horse; he does not value the power of a warrior. The LORD values those who fear him, those who put their hope in his faithful love.
Matthew 6:25, 33 “Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? . . . But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. (CSB)
Proverbs 17:27, 28 The one who has knowledge restrains his words, and one who keeps a cool head is a person of understanding. Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent — discerning, when he seals his lips. (CSB)