|Vol. 14 No. 8 August 2012||
Jesus told us that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will not make it into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20). The scribes were the ones who were charged with writing things down, like the Law. The Pharisees were the “spiritual elite” in the days of Jesus, at least in their own eyes. So, how is our righteousness supposed to surpass the righteousness of those whose sole responsibility was to write the Law and those who lived their lives by it?
The answer is that though they knew the letter of the Law, they did not know the spirit of the Law. John and Jesus both call them a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7; 12:34; 23:33). In Matthew 23, Jesus really let those people have it. Seven times they were called hypocrites. They were called fools and blind men (19) and whitewashed tombs (27). A good summary can be found in verses 23-24. The scribes and Pharisees were supposed to be so holy and so righteous, yet they neglected the weightier matters of the Law. They taught that some aspects of the law were more important than others, and that the less important aspects were not necessary to observe. The way our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees is that we teach the whole purpose of God (Acts 20:27).
David A. Sargent
Several years ago, I was working in my office when I received a phone call. It was a phone call from a man whom I had never met, by the name of Daniel Whitworth.
Daniel said, “David, I have an unusual question to ask you.”
“Uh, okay” I responded. “What is your question?”
“David, are you adopted?”
“Well,” I responded, “I don’t think so, but I can ask my parents. Why do you ask?” Daniel began telling me that he and his two brothers were adopted out to different families when they were all very young. They could not keep in contact with one another as they were growing up because none of the brothers knew where the others had gone. Daniel said he had been able to find and get reacquainted with one of his brothers. Now they were trying to find their other long, lost brother. They wondered if I might be their brother.
Daniel had seen my picture in the Magnolia Messenger, an informational and instructional religious publication edited by A.L. Franks of Kosciusko, MS. Daniel thought that there may be some family resemblance in our looks, so he decided to call and ask if I had been adopted as a child.
My parents Glenn and Sara Sargent assure me that I am their biological child. However, if I were not, they would still be my loving parents! They have taken care of me since I was born into the world, and they still bless me with their wisdom, their example, and even frequent meals and occasional help with household projects! (I am blessed to live about a mile away from my parents.)
Even if I was not related to them biologically, they have loved me as their son, and I have loved them as my parents. If I had not been born into their family, I would count it a privilege to be adopted by them. There is something very special about parents choosing a child to love and nurture as their very own. Adoption is a beautiful thing, especially the opportunity that each of us has to be adopted into God’s family!
Each one of us had been “orphaned” because of our sin, but God loves us so much that He wants to “adopt” us into His family. Please read Romans 8:15-17 and Galatians 4:4-7. At just the right time, God sent His Son to redeem us from the bondage of sin and to give us the opportunity to be adopted into His family (the church) as His children – with all the privileges, responsibilities and rewards that He has for His children.
God adopts and accepts us into His family when we place our faith and trust in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turn from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10) and are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27). Friend, God wants to adopt you into His family, but you have to accept His offer. Will you do this, today?
P.S. Daniel, I may not be your brother in the flesh, but because of Jesus, you and I are brothers in the Lord! What a blessing to be “blood-related” (by the cleansing blood of Jesus) in God’s family, the church!