“For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:20 HCSB
This year I celebrate 40 years in full-time ministry. I have served several churches, a state convention, and Lifeway Christian Resources. I have met and observed many different people in positions of leadership. Some have appeared to be very religious and even taught Sunday School or served as pastors but their hearts and actions told a different story. They would go through the motions of going to church, praying, giving, and even serving in leadership positions, but their hearts strayed far from God and His principles.
That is what Jesus was referencing when He said that our righteousness must surpass that of the scribes and Pharisees who were intent on following every letter of the Law but whose hearts and attitudes were not right. Jesus called His disciples to a different type of righteousness – that which must come from God. We cannot be righteous. Our righteousness must be based on a reverence for a Holy God rather than on the approval of men. Our righteousness must go beyond keeping the Law to the principles behind the Law. There must be a change in our hearts and attitudes if we are going to be acceptable and pleasing to God.
Challenge: You cannot keep the Law. You cannot be good enough to be righteous. It is only God working through you that produces righteousness. God is more concerned about your attitudes than your actions. Look for ways to be pleasing to God rather than pleasing men.