Summary: We like people to think we are good, but we seek to put in the minimal amount of effort to acheive that status. Jesus calls us to be Kingdom citizens who avoid a minimalistic approach.
Humans are interesting creatures aren’t they? On the one hand we mostly want to be seen as being good people who are doing the right thing and who make a positive contribution to the community. On the other hand – in order to achieve this goal – we try and do as little as possible.
We do it at school.
We do it at University.
We do it at work.
We do it at home.
We even do it in our spiritual life.
What we are is minimalists.
It’s the principal of doing as little as we can to make ourselves look good, and then justifying our actions when we need to bend the rules a little bit to suit our needs. It’s also a principal which quickly makes us very judgemental of others. And it is principal that was used by a group of people in the Bible known as the Pharisees.
Jesus didn’t have a lot of good things to say about the Pharisees. Which was kind of strange because everyone else at the time believed the Pharisees where good hard working people. They were often leaders who were held in high regard. They were very committed to God and to the Jewish community. They took the word of God seriously. So seriously that they added another set of rules to the Word of God. Many of those rules were to help people understand how to use the Sabbath Day – which in those days was the day of worship, not a day of work. So, how do you avoid work? Well here is one of the rules they had.
In those days they had two types of chickens. Chickens which laid eggs and chickens which were fattened up to eat. On the Sabbath day you could not eat eggs that were laid by an egg-laying chicken because the chicken had worked to lay that egg. But, if your eating chickens laid an egg you could eat that one. It wasn’t work it was an accident. Not only that you couldn’t eat the fattened chicken on the Sabbath, but you could eat the egg-laying chicken.
That is just one of many rules. These people all looked so holy and so upright with all these rules to follow. And the society was looking at the Pharisees and saying, “I could never be that holy” and the Pharisees would look around and say to society, “You will never be as holy as us”. Then into this situation Jesus drops a bombshell.
I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.
As far as Jesus is concerned all the rule following and hallo’s are useless. People cannot be minimalists and expect to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. That’s the principle. Jesus then goes on to apply this principal is six different areas of life – each area is introduced in the same way.
You have heard that it was said – that is the Pharisee minimal approach.
But I say – this is the Jesus “enter the kingdom of heaven” approach.
Let’s have a brief look at each of these areas and see how they apply to us.
Regarding Murder - Read Matthew 5:21-26
Pharisees – You have heard it was said
Do not murder. It seems simple enough. Don’t kill anyone. Make sure you don’t assist people to Suicide. Make sure you don’t starve people to death. We haven’t done these actions. So this isn’t us. We have kept the rules.