Prepare to Listen. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 5:17-20
17‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks 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. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.’
Liberal, conservative, words used today in divisive ways. We assume that Jesus and Christians are either one or the other. Since we insist on our personal biases, our divisions widen. Jesus, however, can’t be pigeon-holed into our preferences. In fact, Jesus is both a liberal and, at the same time, a conservative. And we’re to be like him!
No doubt Jesus’ Jewish audience called him a liberal, fearing he was abandoning the Law of Moses for something new and radically different. A true liberal is willing to critique and change when needed. They reject conserving the old for the sake of the party. But Jesus was also a conservative. He freed us from the law, but he didn’t abolish it. Instead, he said, he came to fulfil the law in his own life.
We’re to be liberal in our willingness to repent, change our ways, correct oppressive interpretations of God’s Word. And like Jesus, we’re to be conservative, upholding God’s Word. “We must not imagine,” writes Stott, “that when we have the Spirit we can dispense with the law, for what the Spirit does in our hearts is, precisely, to write God’s law there.” We must be as conservative as the scribes and Pharisees, keeping the law. But also liberal, going beyond them because, as Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” The pure in heart are able to do this.
What struck you about Jesus words today?
Respond in Prayer
Lord, guard me from divisive ways that separate people into liberal or conservative and teach me to conserve what is essential and change what isn’t and thus oppressive. Amen.
Live Obediently. Be liberal, giving life. Be conservative, keeping Jesus’ words.
 Stott, John R. W. Christian Counter Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. 1978, p. 75.
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Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.