From The Heart

Publish date: 07/27/2003

Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For 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 5:19-20 KJV

The word “Christ” means “Anointed One” and the word “Christian” means “Christ-like” or “little anointed one.” If you are a Christian, you are saved by grace, washed in the blood of Jesus and born again into His image. You are supposed to come progressively to know the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You are supposed to grow in your knowledge of God and in the process become more like Him. You are supposed to walk like Him, talk like Him, and act like Him.

Unfortunately, there are many Christians who think that the Word of God is optional. They don’t believe that it is important to obey God by being a doer of the Word of God. Even more unfortunately, there are people who stand in a place of leadership in the Body of Christ, who teach God’s Word to others, and who do not live what they say they believe. You lead by example. Jesus said that if you are a doer of the Word of God and you live what you believe and preach and you lead others to do so, then you will be called GREAT in the kingdom of heaven, but if you do not then you will be called the LEAST in the kingdom of God.

The Pharisees and Sadducees taught people rules and regulations, but they themselves did not do all the things they taught others. They put all their trust in themselves. They preached a works program – that it is your works that are vital to your salvation – but it was nothing more than mere religion and man’s tradition. Isaiah 64:6 says that, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Our own efforts and righteousness are insufficient before God, the Righteous Judge. We all need the mercy of a Savior. We all need to be washed in His blood so that we can put on the robes of righteousness that only He can bestow.

While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" 12 On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice.' For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."   Matthew 9:10-13 NIV

The Pharisees and Sadducees set themselves up as representatives of God, but they were hard, religious and judgmental toward those they considered “sinners.” God’s whole message to man is that He made us and He loves us and He has our best interests at heart. John 3:17 says that Jesus was not sent from the Father into the world in order to judge, to reject, to condemn, or to pass sentence on the world, but He came so that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him. If you represent God and speak for Him, then you must have His heart. You must preach mercy and show mercy to others – not judgment and condemnation. If the Pharisees and Sadducees truly represented the Father, then they would have loved the people and not judged or criticized them. Jesus rebuked them for their hypocrisy and they hated Him for it.

He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men: 10 two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men--extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers--or even like this tax collector here. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. 13 But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified (forgiven and made upright and in right standing with God), rather than the other man; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.  Luke 18:9-14 AMP

If you are too arrogant to receive the Word of God into your own life and submit to it, then you will not receive the blessings of the Word. However, if you will humble your heart to receive God’s Word, if you will submit to God and to His Word by your words and your actions, then you will receive all the blessings that He promises and you will be GREAT in the kingdom of God!