Raising the Bar

Read Mt 5.21-48
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
(Matthew 5:48)

Jesus makes the intent of the Law clear by equating real righteousness with outward action and inward motivations. He also describes the righteous requirements of God.

The kind of people who are committed to reading this type of material are usually looking to improve themselves. We are conscientious and determined to progress. But we can also become choleric in our approach to spiritually and start checking blocks. We want to make sure that we have colored within the lines and all mistakes quickly erased. But the fact of the matter is that the best we can do is clean up the outside and conceal the inside. We make sure that our deviant thoughts are tucked away in the back rooms of our hearts like misbehaving children. Having these thoughts and desires lurking in the darkness is a problem, but the bigger problem is when we don’t acknowledge them and act as though they aren’t there. We begin to give the impression that we really are holy and pure in ourselves. But we all know that if a TV screen were hooked to our brains and revealed our inner most thoughts to those around us we could not endure the embarrassment.

In this passage Jesus is digging deep into this predicament. We managed to clean up what people see and yet the heart still clings to the stuff of the old nature. Jesus describes a kind of righteousness that goes beyond show. He talks about holiness in our thoughts, intent, and motives. And quite frankly, the realization that God is holding me accountable for even my thoughts could be discouraging. Jesus just made it impossible for me to completely clean up my act. “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

I think that was the intent of His message. He raised the bar so high, no one would be able to ascend to such heights. He showed us we need a Savior. We need someone who would rescue us and make us righteousness. One who would see our absolute failure and provide grace and mercy for the errors but add the perfection (holiness, Rom 3.23) that is required to commune with God. This is what’s so amazing about our salvation. Jesus’ death on the cross did not only bring us to zero by canceling our debt but He imputes His righteousness to us bringing us to 100%. He makes us perfect. (Rom 3.21-24, Rom 10.3-4, 1 Cor 1.30, 2 Cor 5.21, Phil 3.9)

And this is not only good medicine for us but for those we are bringing up in the faith. A true follower of Jesus Christ would never look at this wonderful gift as a pass to live contrary to the Father’s desires. They would feel compelled to return in obedience such a love even though they knew they could never repay the debt. They would see the relationship as a great privilege and not as an opportunity to cash in on some cosmic benefit. Therefore, we continue to clean both inside and outside, not to earn our salvation, but to prove our gratefulness to the one who purchased it (1 Cor 6.20). FJ80

For questions or comments drop me a line at charleswood1@gmail.com or click the envelope below to send this post to a friend…

Author: Chuck & Deb

Chuck & Deb love Jesus!

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