“Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
If you read Matthew 5:20-26 we see that Jesus is dramatically elevating the standards for His disciples to live by. He tells them that unless they are more righteous than their religious leaders, they will not be able to enter into heaven. He then goes on to expand even more by adding to the commandment against murder to make it include speaking and even thinking violence against others. You can almost hear the disciples in their exasperated response, “This will be impossible!”
So, why does Jesus set such a high standard? He does this because it is a much more true reflection of the Father’s heart. If we see God’s Law as being a gift given first to Moses, then developed by the prophets and then finally completed in Jesus, we then can see God raising His people up in a step by step manner to far greater conformity to His own character.
More importantly, as the stakes are raised, we become more alert to our own need for His grace to help reach this standard. It is totally impossible for us to do it on our own.
Consider asking yourself these questions:
- Is Jesus inviting you to “elevate” your journey this Lent beyond last year?
- Is He asking you to run farther, leap higher, or dive deeper in your friendship with Him?
His invitation means something unique and different for each one of us. We need to try and see it as the perfect opportunity to step up and get even closer to our Savior.
Even if what Jesus is asking of us seems impossible, if we try to achieve it alone, it will be. However, we need to remember that we are not alone and on our own! The Holy Spirit of the Lord is with us. He is the one who can lift us up to heights that we’ve never reached before. To get there though we are going to need to rely solely on Him to a much greater degree than we’ve ever done before. Who knows, if we do that, we might discover ourselves doing the impossible.
“Jesus I hear you calling me. Please help me answer!”
Lord, help us to be able to answer Your call. Show us what it is that you want us to do.
Help us to rely more on Your Holy Spirit so that we might be able to reach a higher level of life in You.
Help us to realize and admit that we cannot achieve Your goals for us on our own.
Teach us to more fully rely on Your Spirit’s wisdom and guidance.