We Must Do Better!

The scribes and Pharisees would like to have thought of themselves as the standard of measurement for righteous living in the days of Christ. They were the champions of orthodoxy, the defenders of the faith, and the epitome of all righteousness. No one could be a better example for people to follow than the Pharisees. However, Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20 NASB).

We probably could think in terms of their hypocrisy — their righteousness was merely an outward show; however, I think a better lesson would be “act vs. thought.” The Pharisees were following the Law which called for refraining from an action. Christ goes deeper and calls for a changing of the thought that brings about the action. The challenge of Christ would go something like “It has been said, Thou shalt not …. But I say unto you, don’t even think about it!” Two examples that Jesus presents are murder and adultery. The Law said, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exodus 20:13 KJV). Jesus says, “Don’t even be angry with your brother” (Matthew 5:22 KJV). Murder is a premeditated act. So, if we are never angry with anyone, we will never be guilty of murder.

The Law said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14 KJV). Jesus says, “If you lust after someone, you are guilty of adultery” (Matthew 5:28 KJV). The Law of Christ demands more than the Law of Moses. We must do better than the law requires. We must go down into our thinking and change our thoughts.

Jesus also requires to reconcile with our brother if at all possible. If I have offended my brother, I must go to him (Matthew 5:23-24). If my brother has offended me, it is still my responsibility to go to him, rather than waiting for him to come to me (Matthew 18:15-17). By me being responsible to attempt reconciliation, there is no reason for differences to continue, thus harmony may be maintained in the Lord’s church.

The Law of Moses set forth some very good principles, but often it was dealing with surface acts. Jesus goes further and deals with the thinking process. If we change our thinking (2 Corinthians 10:5), we will not be committing the act. Our righteousness must exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 5:17-20). We must do better! —Author Unknown

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets


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