Some people think the Bible is just a collection of rules and commands that can be used like a religious scorecard. If you do the right things, you get points. If you do wrong things, you lose points. If you get a high enough score, you pass the test, pass the class, and don’t get expelled.
Or something like that.
But that’s not how the Bible works at all. The Bible is a story, from the beginning of time until the end of time, that is primarily about God, but also about humans and how they can have a relationship with God and live life with him and for him.
One thing we all know about humans is that they like to push boundaries, and sometimes they’re tempted to do things that aren’t good for them, for the world, or for the other people around them. Long before Jesus was born, God provided some specific laws to help people live rightly, safely, and differently from those around them who worshipped false gods and followed false religions.
The Old Testament (the section of the Bible that comes before the birth of Jesus) contains 248 commandments (right things to do) and 365 prohibitions (wrong things to not do). In Jesus’ time, the religious leaders known as Pharisees worked very hard to obey everything in the Old Testament and they demanded that other people follow all of these rules, too.
When Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of… [the] Pharisees,” he didn’t mean people should try to get a better “score” than the Pharisees. The point isn’t to walk around thinking, “I obeyed 200 commandments out of 248 today. How about you??”
Getting a good “score” isn’t what makes a person right with God. Jesus took care of that himself when he died on the cross and rose again. Trying to get a perfect score on “following all the rules” is not the key to life. The key to life is knowing Jesus and letting him change us from the inside out. He wants us to obey him out of love, not just follow rules out of fear or pride.
The Bible puts it this way: “People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
Keeping religious score is a waste of time. Loving and obeying Jesus is the only thing that counts.
To Think About:
What are some of the ways you've tried to keep score with God?
What are some of the ways God is changing your heart?
In what ways are you learning to obey God more and more?