Raising my ‘feisty quotient’

March 10, 2021

Deuteronomy 4:1–2,5–9 | Matthew 5:17–19 | Psalm 78:1–6

For some reason, my first pass at these readings raised my ‘feisty quotient.’ In the Old Testament reading, Moses urges us to “make [the statutes and ordinances] known to your children and your children’s children.” On the surface, I can appreciate and support this. While it may sound to my ear a bit pompous to say, “What other great nation has statutes and ordinances as just as this entire law that I am setting before you today?”, as if other nations’ laws are lesser than, I can agree that we should teach our children the laws of God and the teachings of Jesus. 

Where I struggle a bit is when Jesus says, “Whoever breaks 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.” To me, Jesus models, and in fact directly teaches, the grace of forgiveness. Yet His statement here, that anyone who breaks even the smallest of the commandments will be called ‘least in the kingdom of heaven,’ seems too judgmental to be reconciled with a forgiving Jesus. I can’t quite sort it out, which is I think why my ‘feistiness factor’ was piqued. Could he mean to inspire us to shoot for the moon, to “do and teach” them all so that we might be called “great in the kingdom of heaven”? Perhaps. I’ll continue to reflect on that as I struggle with the seeming perfectionism of not breaking even ‘one of the least of these commandments.’ 

Diane Rich