Just Looking Good Isn’t Enough, Devotional Matthew 5:21-32

Just Looking Good Isn’t Enough

Just looking good isn’t enough for God. As long as my focus is on my goodness and my effort to be good—or even my effort to be good in front of others, this section makes no sense because Jesus is not talking about meeting minimum standards, looking good, or just getting by. He is talking about absolute moral perfection, absolute complete internal transformation. Without the Holy Spirit, without the hand of God himself, this is impossible. If  a sense of despair comes, I can reread yesterday’s post, Sermon on the Mount, Further Thoughts,  which comments on this sense of despair that I sometimes experience when I contemplate what God requires of me. Just looking good may be enough for my job, school, neighborhood, home or church, but it isn’t good enough for God.

Change From Inside Out

Jesus wants to change me from the inside out. He wants to root out anger and lust. And wants me to be so serious about it that he compares it to gouging out an eye or cutting off a limb. He uses this extreme figurative language to make a point that is consistent with the dying to self that is necessary to follow him. Waking me up from the delusion of just looking good requires him to grab me and shake me maybe even slap me across the cheek.

Sadly I am sometimes complacent with external appearance and just looking good. If I continue to approach Jesus this way, I do not have a relationship with him. I become like the Pharisees and teachers of the law referred to in verse 20. They were masters of just looking good in the religious sense. I must remember that just looking good isn’t enough.

Read Matthew 5:21-32

  1. How does the teaching of Jesus on MAD (murder, adultery, divorce) compare with the expectations about these subjects in my culture, society, church, and family?
  2. How does tolerance of behavior and thought differ from confession, repentance, and forgiveness?
  3. Compare love better expressed and practiced through confession, repentance, and forgiveness. How does this contrast to tolerance?
  4. How is tolerance the opposite of love?
  5. Who is glorified when I meet the expectations of friends, family, society, and church?
  6. How can this glorification be an obstacle to my relationship with Jesus?
  7. What is most important to me: meeting the expectations of friends, family, society, and church or meeting the expectations of Jesus?
  8. Since Jesus will help me through the Holy Spirit to meet his expectations, and he will not help me meet the expectations of friends, family, society, or church, which is the most easy, peaceful, joyful and relaxed path?

Passage for Meditation

It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell. Matthew 5:30b


Father forgive me as so often I compromise with my culture and those around me to accept a standard lower than yours. I compromise because I fail to trust and believe that you truly can make me into the person you desire to make me into. Sometimes father I don’t want to submit, I don’t want to become what you want. Forgive me for my rebellion and my failure to submit to you. Forgive me for wanting to be good and look good without you. For trampling on my relationship with you and accepting a counterfeit faith, forgive me. Forgive me for being smug and self righteous when I have fulfilled the expectations of my family, social group, or church. Remind me that just looking good isn’t enough to please you.

Help me to quickly root out anger, to be alert to sexual temptation, and to not take a casual or flippant attitude toward divorce. Help me to deal with my sin directly through confession, repentance, and forgiveness and never glaze it over with tolerance. I submit and turn to you father, make me into the person you want me to be. I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief.

Next Devotional Post

Previous Devotional Post

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply