Teacher of Righteousness

KEY VERSE: “I say unto you, that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” —Matthew 5:20

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Matthew 5:17-20; 6:1-6, 16-18

IT IS well to emphasize that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, a part of which is assigned as a basis of this lesson, was intended primarily to instruct and guide the disciples of Christ in preparation to be joint-heirs with him in his kingdom. Loyalty to these instructions is a prerequisite to obtaining a place of rulership with Jesus. Each one of the rules is important in itself, and the spirit reflected by all of them points out the difference between God’s viewpoint and ways, and those of Satan, reflected in the spirit of the scribes and Pharisees. It is the difference between love and selfishness; between sacrifice and grasping; between trusting in God and trusting in ourselves.

To seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness is a challenge to our faith in God, and to our love for the righteous requirements of his law. Food, clothing, homes, and other material necessities are to be considered but secondary by the Christian. The Heavenly Father knows we have need of these, and has promised to supply them; hence, if we fully trust him and love the things of the Spirit more than those of the flesh we will delight to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

If we hope to reign with Christ we must learn to go beyond justice in dealing with our fellow men and with our brethren. This simply means that we must learn to be like God and delight in his spirit of unselfishness. Had God not gone beyond justice in planning for the blessing of mankind, there would be no hope of life for any of us.

The same is true of Jesus. Justice did not demand that he die in order to redeem the fallen race, but love caused him to rejoice in the privilege. We are to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, rejoicing also in the opportunity that is ours of laying down our lives for the brethren and for the world.

“By their fruits ye shall know them,” is a well known Scriptural expression, but one which is often misapplied. Works which arc ostensibly good are not always fruits by which we can properly appraise the position of others in. the sight of God, for Jesus explains that he would condemn some who had done “wonderful works.” (Matt. 7:21,22) Many, even, who call upon him in prayer, saying, “Lord, Lord,” will not pass the test of having borne good fruit. “He that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven,” said Jesus, is the one who bears good fruit and is entitled to enter into the kingdom of heaven.

As God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust,” so should we seek to be all-comprehensive in the bestowing of our blessings. (Matt. 5:45) Thus we can be “perfect, even as our Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (vs. 48) If we limit our love to those who love us; if we do not bless them who curse us; if we do not do good to those who despitefully use us; we are coming short of all that it means to be like God—we are imperfect, not perfect like unto him.

The standard is high, but the blessings for those who attain it are rich. The kingdom of heaven is theirs. They will rejoice as they witness and share in the work of destroying sin and death, and in drying the tears of all mankind. And, oh, the indescribable joy that will be ours when we “see him face to face!” (I Cor. 13:12) Let us then press for the promised prize with all diligence, permitting no seed thoughts of selfishness to spring up in our heart to mar our present vision of God, or to turn aside from faithfully doing his will.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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