Have you ever thought you were putting forth your best effort, only to find out that what you thought was going to get you “over the top” at some competition or event wasn’t enough? How does it feel when you find out that you just don’t have the stuff, or what it takes to make it at some certain level? Have you ever thought you were, as they say “all that”, but you still fell flat?
That has happened to all of us. Still, there may have been times when you just knew that you put forth your best effort, and the best anyone could possibly strive to attain. When the time came you did all you knew to do, and it went perfectly, and people responded just as you would have hoped. What would happen if just then someone came along and told you that you aren’t good enough, haven’t worked hard enough, and won’t get to where you think you are going at all? Sad, mad, and acting bad all fit the likely profile.
This is how many people must have felt at the words of Jesus. The religious crowd always thinks that they are cool with the rules, that they are good examples of what godliness is all about. They might even take pride in their legalistic standards. The Pharisees thought they were rigid, but Jesus says they were too relaxed. They thought they were being super strict, but Jesus told them they weren’t even close to meeting the real standard, which is perfection. This was to get them to stop relying on their own notions of righteousness.
God has a way of letting your pride swell up, and then letting the bottom drop out. This is because the Pharisee in you must be dealt the death blow. You must be broken so that Jesus can come out of the plastic, prideful shell you feel so proud about. Jesus fulfilled the law perfectly, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Romans 3:20). When we think we can achieve God’s standard, we deny Jesus the rightful place. Receiving the righteousness of Christ by faith is the only way to meet the standard. He has done it; do you want it? Better kill your inner Pharisee.