A Nation That Does What is Right

 

Isaiah 58:1-12

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Matthew 5:13-20

Psalm 112:1-10

 

In the words of Jesus: For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heavenESV

The Pharisees were closer to being proper Jews than any other major group. Forget about individuals for a moment, many of whom were close to God. There was no group other than the Pharisees who even attempted to live a life as prescribed by God. Jesus recognized them as an important example to the people. That is why he so often pointed out their weaknesses. In effect, Jesus told people to follow them, but do it the way I do it.

The Pharisees developed a list of 365 negatives (do not look at a woman’s face) and 248 positives (pay a full tenth of the value of every piece of property you own) for a total of 613 rules. Most Pharisees kept every rule.

Did Jesus mean that we must do 700 things? A thousand?

NO

The Laws (actually, TEACHINGS) of Moses are all about how we relate to God and each other. Jesus told us over and over that we must love one another. If someone calls me a knuckle-dragging dimwit, I should not retaliate. I should move on from there to accomplish whatever needs doing. Or, at least say, “Have a nice day,” and mean it.

Isaiah struggled with the stubborn people who misunderstood the Teachings. “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? NIV

Yes, if I give money to a panhandler, he might be lying, cheating, and scamming the system. But that is God’s call. Mine is to respond with love.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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