Learning to do more

There is a quote from Jesus in his “Sermon on the Mount” that challenges me. It is within Matthew 5:46 and is, “what do you do more than others?”

Let’s get an idea of the context of this statement. In Matthew 5:20, Jesus warned his disciples and by implication all of us, that unless our righteousness exceeds that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. We must do more.

Jesus called us to abandon anger (Matthew 5:21f). He called us to abandon lust (Matthew 5:27ff). The Lord warned us to watch our tongue (Matthew 5:33ff). Then we are challenged to love the unlovable (Matthew 5:43-48).

Those are all tall orders. But, wait, there’s more.

There are those who think the only obligation they have as a Christian is to obey God’s commandments. We must obey his commandments, but that’s not all the Lord Jesus expects us to do. He expects more from his obedient ones. He expects a sacrifice.

We can read of this sacrifice in Romans 12:1-2. It might be helpful to remember what a sacrifice was in the Old Testament. A sacrifice is from the best of the flock. It was meant to be costly. That’s why it was a sacrifice.

There are those who think that Jesus should be happy with whatever is left over. If they’re too tired to attend worship services, then the Lord has to understand. If their bank account is too small to grant the Lord a gift on Sunday, then the Lord must understand. This thinking does not involve doing more than others.

In Luke 17:7-9, the Lord asked his disciples a question. If you had a slave, would you call him into the house and ask him to eat your supper? Jesus said no.  You’d tell him to wait until you had eaten. Then he asked, “Would you thank him for doing what you expect him to do?” The Lord’s reply to the question is priceless: “I think not.” You would not thank that slave for doing what he was supposed to do.

Then, the Lord issued this challenge: “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do,’ ” (Luke 17:10 NKJV). God wants us to obey him, but he also wants our sacrifice — living sacrifice — each day.

We will never please God until we learn to do more.

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