Jesus said to his disciples: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. “Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow. But I say to you, do not swear at all. Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.”
For many of us, we usually want the Truth when it comes to people’s interactions with us. But that doesn’t always apply to us when we’re interacting with others. We often tell “white lies” or “half-truths” – especially when we are concerned that the Truth might get us in trouble with others, hurt someone’s feelings, and/or have significant consequences. The Truth in the New Testament (NT; Covenant) is not an abolishment of the Old Testament (OT; Covenant). Rather the NT is the fulfillment of the Old Testament, but at much greater depths than the OT peoples thought. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus made it clear that he did not come to “abolish the Law or the Prophets”. Rather He took “Righteousness” to a whole different level – He took it to Perfection in Him. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 start off in a “comfortable way” – for we’ve all been “poor in Spirit”, “mourned”, “meek”, “hunger[ed] and thirst[ed] for Righteousness”, “merciful”, “peacemakers”, and “persecuted and insulted” (to some degree) for our Faith. It’s the “2nd half” of Matthew 5 that’s daunting. Jesus not only Fulfilled the OT in the NT, but He showed us the target (Perfection) that He demands from us even knowing that nobody on earth (besides Him) would ever be able to reach it in our sinful flesh. So, where does that leave us? First and foremost, we need to be in Scripture daily and as often as we can. We need to know the Truth of God’s Word for ourselves. Even when we fall short of Perfection, Jesus is quick to point out that it is in the “Try” that He focuses His gaze upon. To use a metaphor, Eternal Salvation is like borrowing from God our time (lives) on earth like when we borrow money from a bank. We cannot settle our “earthly debts” until we have “paid the last penny” (Matthew 5:26). If we aren’t Good Stewards and don’t know the terms and conditions, PIN number, and/or account number on our bank accounts (earthly works), how are we to be Good Stewards of our accounts (time on earth) with the Eternal Banker (God) – e.g. take any money out (sins), make any deposits (Good Deeds), and/or settle our accounts (earthly works)? It’s time we all agree that even while the Truth in our Terms and Conditions from God (found in the Bible) are tough, they are not impossible. In Matthew 19:26, Jesus goes on to comfort us by saying, “with God all things are possible”. So, let’s do our best to manage our Spiritual Accounts here on earth the best that we can – repenting to God when we make mistakes and doing our best to grow our Accounts in Him. He is a Just Judge and will settle our Accounts justly when we reach the Other Side.