Matthew 5:20 says, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

These words which were spoken by Jesus to his followers came to mind as I finished reading the story of the Ten Commandments to our kids last night. I asked them, “Do you ever break the rules?” Anika and Evan both said yes, but Caleb said no.

Caleb’s response reminded me of the self-righteous Pharisees. It may seem odd to write about my own child this way, but the fact is that we all tend to think we are pretty righteous more often than not. That’s where Jesus’ words come in. “Unless your righteousness exceeds…” The righteousness Jesus is referring to is a different kind of righteousness than that which is attained by following the rules. Jesus is talking about a righteousness that comes by acknowledging our own fallenness and dependance on a saviour. It’s a righteousness that causes us, when our Father asks us if we’ve broken any rules, to humbly ask for forgiveness knowing we have been disobedient. Born again Christians do not gain righteousness by following rules but by depending on Christ who’s righteousness is imputed to us.

As a father I believe my responsibility is to teach our children to acknowledge their mistakes and ask God for forgiveness. My goal is not to bring up outwardly righteous children, but to raise children who know they are sinners in need of a saviour, and to respond by loving others with the same grace and patience that God has given them.


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