I wonder if we are aware that we are increasingly looking for an advantage. Looking at the world around us we see a world who is focused on being first, to the point of rudeness. Why is it that we think we deserve to be first, or in some way treated differently than others? Our passage today reminds us that the rules written long ago still apply. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
At the track every team is looking for the things that will make their car go the fastest. They are searching for that one thing that gives them an advantage over the rest. That in itself isn’t wrong, it is when that desire leads us across the line into the gray area, that questionable area of the rules. I have heard it said “it’s not what the rules say, it’s what they don’t say.” The proliferation of the rule book has to do with the idea that it didn’t say we couldn’t do it. Some have even been known to actually break the rules to gain an advantage. We’ve heard it said, “we get paid to cheat and they get paid to catch us.” We rationalize our creative interpretation of the rules as something necessary to get that competitive advantage that allows us to win.
What is a win really worth if it is won by cheating? I guess we could all rationalize that everyone is doing it. I think that is a trait of the human condition. When we manipulate things to our advantage we search for reasons why, reasons that will make us feel like we really didn’t do anything wrong. That lie will open the door for all kinds trouble.
There are those who believe winning at all cost is the right motto to live by. Somehow we think integrity is for losers. Why is it that we think we don’t have to answer to anyone? Jesus introduced his discussion on the Ten Commandments with this passage. As we continue our Winter Bible Study we will take a look at how this short passage has a big impact.
Matthew 5:17-20; “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who 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 practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 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.
Those commandments were written so long ago that we think surely they are outdated. Jesus makes it pretty clear that the law, the rules, still apply. We tend to think that the rules and the law are for someone else. We are not that bad and surely God will understand. We look for a way to do what we want to do without guilt or consequences.
Jesus used this passage as an introduction to his discussion about how the commandments should be interpreted. Jesus took the time to let us know how we were in error in our interpretation. Have you ever thought you had the right interpretation of the rules only to have the correct interpretation pointed out to you? I’ve seen many racecar parts confiscated from teams who thought they had the right interpretation only to find out they didn’t.
Rules govern the way we live. They keep order in our lives. We, however, think they can be bent or broken if by doing so we gain something, something we want. It is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission, right? Take a look at the passage and see if that is the case.
Jesus didn’t come to remove our responsibility to follow God’s law. He came to complete the law, to show us how to live according to the law. He came to help us understand what the law means and how to apply it to our lives.
Sometimes we can read the rules and wonder what they really mean. We start to interpret them based on our own understanding. In fact the Jewish leaders built a whole structure of laws from the original ten. That was one reason why Jesus took the time to clarify. The Jewish leaders were leading the people in the wrong direction. Jesus makes reference to this when he says we need to live better lives than those leaders did if we want to enter the Kingdom of God. You see they only pretended to follow God’s law. They had an interpretation that benefited their needs. Their interpretation was not correct. Jesus came to set the record straight.
We need to understand what the law says and what it means. Jesus took the time to explain it and in the next few weeks we will explore how He taught us to live and conduct our lives. We will reference the original Ten Commandments. If you would like to reread them you can find them in your bible in Exodus 20:1-17; Scripture tells us that they were written by the finger of God. I encourage you to join us and learn what it means to live according to God’s Law.
PREPARING TO HEAD SOUTH – I’ve seen many counting down the days until the racing season begins in Florida. We have a few venues we hope to be at, both dirt and asphalt. This opportunity gives us a chance to be with many of the touring series before they spread out across the country in pursuit of the championship. We are trying to cover as much as we can with reduced resources. Please pray for our Chaplains as they minister. Also, if you would like to partner with us we would welcome your help. Please check out the options for one-time or automatic monthly contributions on our website; rwjm.com/donate.
Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.