February 5

Matthew 5:17-20

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” vs. 20

Jesus wasn’t interested in having his followers be “law-abiding citizens.” He wanted them to be better than that! There were already plenty of scribes and Pharisees in the land, and they were obsessed with keeping every commandment of law. They were known for their righteousness. There was no need for more people like them. Instead Jesus told his disciples to let their light shine and fill up the world with the fruits of the Spirit. Among them love, joy, and peace would abound and the wounds of the hurting would be bound up and healed. This kind of living would result in a higher righteousness than mere obedience to the law, but it didn’t mean that the disciples would be free to do as they pleased. The law wasn’t being abolished, it was being fulfilled! That’s been a hard concept for some to figure out and the record of the Church through the years is replete with folks who thought being in Christ was an invitation to profligate living. Sometimes through prayer and the inspiration of the Spirit we will walk in new ways–new wine does require new wine skins–but the core of the law will remain the same. Always we are called to love the Lord with our heart, mind, and strength, and our neighbors, as ourselves. And the light will be our guide.

Thought for the Day: What’s the difference between the spirit and the letter of the law?

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