October 1, 2021
Scripture: “Therefore, whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:19
Observation: Having established that he has fulfilled the law, Jesus turns our attention to those who are teachers of the law: the Pharisees and lawyers. He had little patience for their hypocritical application of God’s commands. Sadly, the religious leaders used Scripture to control God’s people while manipulating its precepts (relaxing the law) to suit their affinities. While they outwardly observed the law, their lives belied its intent: the transformation of the heart. Hence, Jesus goes on to explain that harboring anger is the same as murdering, lusting the same as fornicating, divorcing with intent to remarry the same as adultery (verses 21-32).
Takeaway: All of us are prone to interpret Scripture based on our opinions and preferences. The antidote? First, avoid appealing to human-made traditions of the culture or even the church—the latter can be more challenging to detect. But if we ground ourselves in the Word and submit to the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, we will see where we or others have erred. Secondly, elevate Scripture over human reasoning and sensibilities. If we deny the sufficiency of all of God’s Word and pick and choose which passages we will apply to our lives, then we will be no better than the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. And if we instruct others in the same manner, then we as well will be “least in the kingdom of heaven.”
Prayer: Father God, in your mercy, please expose our biases or misconstrued interpretations of your Word through the conviction of your Holy Spirit. And please help us submit to Scripture under the teaching of godly men and women who know and love you that we too might become your faithful instructors. Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling