Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
It is the little things, too. Unrighteousness can come from the smallest offense. It’s not just the big sin of murder, but the small sin of unjust anger. It’s not just adultery, but lust in the heart. It’s not just following through on the action, but even considering it in our minds. In this way, the law penetrates much deeper than the surface. In a sense, murder, adultery, stealing, lying, et cetera, are usually visible sins. But those secret places within us hold the potential for great evil and wickedness that can, in some ways, do much more damage.
We can’t overlook these things. We can’t disregard the fact that sin and those things condemned by God go much deeper than we may at first think. It’s not just about keeping the outside clean, but our hearts, too. That’s why Jesus was so critical of the Pharisees for their outward appearances. They were only concerned with those overt sins that could be witnessed by others, but they neglected to be concerned with those sins only God was witness to. That’s why He was constantly emphasizing the importance of a clean heart, because the evil that dwells there is more often not visible to others.
Do we ever disregard things because we think they’re no big deal, that perhaps they are small things that don’t warrant too much concern? But in His teachings, Jesus came to point out those little things we may not have noticed before. He came to expose a deeper truth than the one that had been proclaimed among the Jews. He came to reveal just how deep the corruption in each of us goes. He came to show the people that an adherence to the law was about more than looking good and avoiding big sins. And by doing so, perhaps He showed them that being righteous on their own was harder than they thought.
Maybe we need a little bit more attention to detail in our lives. Maybe we need to understand how careful we have to be about even our thoughts, our intentions, those things inside of us that may never see the light of day. Maybe we need to realize how much we need Jesus because there are so many ways to be unrighteous without hardly realizing it. And maybe that can make us more thankful that we can trust Christ for salvation and have His perfect righteousness appointed to us. Let’s take heed of the Master’s teaching and seek to live righteous lives that will please Him.