Legal vs. Righteous

Today’s Reading: Matthew 5:21-48

There is a LOT going on in the last half of Matthew chapter 5.  Everything from personal relationships to murder, adultery, divorce, empty promises, and loving your enemies! I have to be honest with you, there was a time when I would read this portion of scripture and scratch my head, thinking, this is really hard stuff!  The statements made by Jesus in here could choke a pig, including the notion of plucking out your eye, cutting off your hand, giving away your clothes, going the extra mile, turning the other cheek, loving those who hate you…!

I imagine there were some listening to Jesus when He spoke these words that may have even turned away from following Him.  It would not be the last time He makes bold and brash statements that challenged the culture and startled the listeners.  The bible is not all peaches and roses.  We have a choice to either believe or walk away.  For those of us willing to admit that God is God, and not a god of our own making who we can use as a proverbial wishing machine, we have the understanding that nowhere else will we find the words of life!

If you have not yet had the opportunity to read this portion of scripture from The Message, I would highly recommend it.  I thought to paste it here at the bottom but hesitated because of the length, so if you don’t already have a copy of The Message, you can read it here.  When I read this portion of scripture through this translation lens, it began to fall more into place and I understood it more than any other time perhaps that I had read it previously.

The point or conclusion of this passage, to me, is that just because something is legal doesn’t make it righteous (see verse 36 in The Message – you can’t use legal cover to mask a moral failure).  We are children of the Most High God.  We are Kingdom subjects, ambassadors in this world.  What righteousness we have comes from Him. We ought to live graciously towards others the way God lives towards us, and as we previously read in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”




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