Among the many challenging things our Lord taught in the Sermon on the Mount is this: “For 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. (Matthew 5:20)”

When we consider the nature of the righteousness pursued by the Pharisees, it must get our attention when we read Jesus telling us that we must surpass them in order to enter the kingdom of heaven. Are we to gather up all their religious exercises and then add to them our own in order to surpass them? This would prove a burden too heavy to bear. But there is a way of reading Jesus’ teachings that robs us of our motivation to even try.

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