Previously I discussed becoming the greatest in the kingdom. It requires one to humble themselves like a child and remain humble and serve. The kingdom of God is the upside-down kingdom where the greatest is the one willing to go to the lowest place, as in humbling themselves and serving in it, the example of Jesus.
But who is the least, and what does one have to do to become the least in the kingdom. The ‘Sermon On The Mount’ teaching is about kingdom lifestyle and the values of the kingdom. So much good teaching is found here, but it is often overlooked or not taught properly.
Matthew 5:19-20 “ Therefore whoever relaxes 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 does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” ESV
In verse 18 of Matthew chapter 5, Jesus tells the listeners that until heaven and earth passway, not one iota or yodh will pass from the law. In other words, even the smallest letter, yodh, in Hebrew is essential. Everything is important when it comes to all of the commandments and statutes. We cannot pick and choose which ones to follow.
Teaching Others To Break The Rules
In these passages, Jesus is not just saying if you break one of the rules (or values of the kingdom), you are the least. We all can rebel, turn away or come out of agreement with one kingdom values here and there. Already today, I may have judged somebody or forgot to inspect the beam in my eye. But, I can quickly turn away from that mindset and seek forgiveness and align my mind with the kingdom value that says look at the beam in my eye first.
Where we fall and become, the least, is by aligning ourselves with values contrary to the kingdom. When we break a minor command and then go unrepentant and teach others to do the same, then we are on the road to be the least. It is not enough to relax the commands, as one translation puts it.
We have to go so far as to adjust our lifestyle to teach others to break the same command. That occurs in several ways:
- BY our actions- people see what we do, and they follow our bad example.
- By what we say- just the words we use
- By actually teaching or preaching that which is contrary to what Jesus taught
- Who we associate with- aligning ourselves with people teaching and practicing doctrinal error with no repentance.
- Where we Go- people see everything we- where we shop, eat, etc.
Everything we do must glorify God, and our speech, actions, and even what we listen to must reflect kingdom values. It is one thing to relax or break one of Jesus’ commands here or there, but He is talking about continually doing it and causing others to do likewise.
Matthew 5:20 ‘unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.’
The Pharisees’ brand of righteousness was based on strict adherence to the letter of the law and not the spirit. They were self-righteous, pious, and upright. They jumped through all of the hoops. Their brand of righteousness was more like religion and legalism. They had added to and taken away from what God had given them. They had missed the intent of it all, and that is why they couldn’t inherit the kingdom.
You Can’t Keep It
The Pharisees tried to force everybody to be like them, and no one could keep every letter of the law. That was the whole purpose of Jesus’ coming and giving us the Holy Spirit. We will stumble, but we have an advocate who can bring us back. If you are in the Word, praying and worshipping daily and being led by the Spirit of God, then you will not become the least in the kingdom.
The Pharisees actually caused everybody to stumble
The Holy Spirit is our counselor and teacher, and if we listen to His promptings, we will not get off course. When we try and keep every command in our strength, we have already set ourselves up for failure, disappointment, and eventually causing others to stumble. Do yourself a favor, and don’t fret over being the least. Stay humble and in fellowship with the Spirit of God.
Time To Turn Back
If you find yourself doing things you shouldn’t, or practicing something contrary to the kingdom’s values, stop and repent. If you have been teaching others doctrinal error, then repent. That is the beauty of the kingdom. Unlike the Pharisees, we have the Holy Spirit to guide us.
There are many teaching and practicing doctrines of demons and tickling men’s ears. But they can also repent and find the truth. Maybe you were led astray by these modern Pharisees or wolves in sheep’s clothing. Then you still have the opportunity to go from least to greatest. That is the simplicity of the kingdom of God.
I have to continually ask God to put a guard over my mouth, protect my eyes, and guide my steps. Why? Because I can relax any command at any time. If I am not careful, I can relax so much that it becomes a habit, and others soon follow me down the slippery slope. That is why we must quickly turn away from evil thoughts, lusts, or anything that might pull us off the narrow path.
Just Stay Humble
The key then is to stay humble, stay in fellowship with the Spirit, and watch who or what you let into your life. I am not talking about people you are evangelizing or helping in Jesus’ name. I mean your close friends, church, etc. Remember, humbling yourself like a child is the path to be the greatest in the kingdom. Pride to remain a kingdom command breaker and leading others astray is the way to the least in the kingdom!
Stay humble My Friends!