January 13 (Matthew 5:19-20 NIV)
19. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
When you’re in a relationship, you should strive to create a stronger relationship by doing those things that please the other party, as they also should strive to please you. Relationships are supposed to be a two-way street. As Jesus dealt with the law, and righteousness, I interpret His words in light of our relationship with God through Jesus. If you want your relationship with God to be at its finest, you’ll need to respond to His love and grace by living the right way. A relationship with God isn’t just a “Get out of the consequences of sin free” card, it’s a call to live as He desires and empowers us to live.
Jesus then noted that there was a high standard of righteousness, some might say impossible standard, just to enter the kingdom of heaven: we need to be more righteous than the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Nobody was more righteous than they were, or so the people thought. Either Jesus had just set an impossible standard, or the people needed to understand righteousness from God’s perspective. Righteousness isn’t so much what you do as having a relationship with God who molds you into His image so that why you do something is more important than what you do. That why should always be to glorify God.
The problem the Pharisees and other religious leaders had is that they sought to follow the law so that others could see how amazing they were. Their actions pointed to their own greatness instead of God’s.. God calls us to live for Him. All the good works we do should point people to God and His greatness. That is how we become more righteous than the Pharisees and the teachers of the law.
Lord, thank You for Your grace that allows me to experience a relationship with You. Let others see my actions and recognize that all I do is to honor You. Let all that I do bring honor to You.