Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Seeking Righteousness (Matthew 5)

"… unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:20).

Alexander the Great once reprimanded a soldier who was also named Alexander for running from the battlefield. “Either change your name or live up to it,” he said. This is exactly how it must be with the Christian. We are to live up to the name we have been given—the name of Christ. This means we are to be holy as God is holy and to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Just as a disobedient child brings dishonor to his parents, so disobedient Christians bring dishonor to Christ. Almost every person in the church can testify to hearing the charge of hypocrisy from the world. While the charge is oftentimes undeserved, sometimes it is warranted. Sometimes the church and the name of Christ are ridiculed because people who claim to be Christians are living in scandalous sin and inciting scorn from the lips of unbelievers. It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that the world doesn’t notice the inconsistencies of our lives, but this is far from the truth. If you are living as a hypocrite, though the world might cheer you on in your sin, you are hardening the hearts of unbelievers against the grace of God and you are causing them to be prejudiced against the church of Christ.

While it is important to escape the charge of hypocrisy from the world, we must primarily consider what God thinks. He has called sinners into His kingdom to seek righteousness so that the world might see their good deeds and praise their Father in heaven. We are to set our minds on the things of the Spirit, not the things of the flesh, to think on those things that are lovely and pure so that these qualities are reflected in our character and our actions.

Unless we are convinced that obeying God’s law out of love is the number one priority of the Christian, we will not do it. We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds to think God’s thoughts after Him, and that means to set our minds on things above, on that which is holy and righteous. Jesus taught His disciples “to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” before all else. This is our calling and our duty so that we may bring glory to God in all we think, say, and do.

Read through he Sermon on the Mount today (Matt. 5–7). If you do not have time in one sitting, spread it out throughout the day. Identify two areas that are most convicting to you. Confess to God your weakness and sin in these two areas and pray for the Spirit to enable you to overcome them.