For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matt 5:20
Six examples follow:
“You have heard that it was said….but I say to you…” Jesus says this is what you have been taught about anger, lust, divorce, oaths, retaliation and your enemies. And following these teachings will get you a ‘righteousness’ equal to the Pharisees. To enter the kingdom of heaven, yours must exceed that.
Jesus’ stated solution for adultery is the most violent in the list – pluck out the offending eye or cut off the offending hand. The maiming of the offenders own body to ward off the maiming of the one flesh shared by the woman and her rightful husband or future husband? And then divorce leads to adultery – the cycle is perpetuated.
The truth is we cannot obtain a ‘righteousness’ greater than the Pharisees apart from the one that Jesus provides.
Moreover, even having achieved that perfect covering I struggled daily to give him the full reign of my heart. Success is varied and not particularly lasting – most likely because the struggling is my own working at it.
I’m learning a new tactic – simply just setting heart and mind to draw near to God and stay near Him. (You apparently can teach an old dog new tricks. 🙂 ) Not that this idea is really new, just new to my practice. “Drawing near” has no particular steps to follow that I can discern. It is, at this time for me, simply thinking about His presence and being a child and Father together*.
Bob gave me a quote from someone’s advice about stress: “choosing meaning is more healthful than avoiding discomfort”. I think I’d like to modify it to: chose meaning over avoiding discomfort. I like to think I am choosing a meaning-filled relationship with the Father over the struggle of trying to dodge sin in my own power.
*“Drawing near to the Father”, among other things, is something God is awakening in me because of one particular young man’s life. (When you are 65 and the kid is late thirties, you call him a young man.) I recommend to you Bigger Than My Box by John Cullimore. It’s not fancy but it is deep. John is a man of many talents – singer, song-writer, author, dedicated husband, vibrant daddy to a gaggle of girls – but overall, a guy who knows how to be a child of the Father. Thanks, John. I’m learning from you in every page.
a $3.99 e-book available on Amazon – Bigger Than My Box by John Cullimore