For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:20 NRSV)

Like a beam of light shining through the darkness, modern day followers of Jesus stand out and are visible for all the world to see. Our temptation is to allow our light to shine only for those inside our church, while ignoring people outside.

What we need to see is that as the salt of the earth and the light of the world, we live by a higher standard. Jesus warned his followers, "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom to heaven."

Don't be misled. The scribes and Pharisees were the finest people of their day. They had all sorts of rules and regulations. How they loved to debate the fine points of the law. They lived their lives in strict observance of the Torah. They thought that if they could live out their lives to the letter of the law they would be found right in God's sight. Jesus, though, pointed toward a higher law--the law of love. Here is where Jesus wants his disciple to shine. He wants us to "out-love" everybody on earth. Instead of consulting a rule book to determine our actions, Jesus wants his followers to act out of compassion. Jesus wants his followers to go beyond the religiosity of the scribes and Pharisees and truly become the "salt of the earth" and the "light of the world."


Heavenly Father, help me not to just survive, but to love as you love me. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ron Newhouse

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