Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heave and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 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.
Pharisees’ righteousness surpassed (17-20). The Pharisees had reduced God’s law to a standard of righteousness to justify themselves and condemn others. Jesus fulfilled the law by keeping it perfectly; the Law and Prophets point to him; his blood makes holy all who believe in him. Jesus goes on to apply the law inwardly. True righteousness is not a matter of legalism, but inward transformation into Jesus’ image as we obey his commands from heart.
I am definitely guilty of “applying the law outwardly” sometimes, and I find myself subconsciously judging others on the smallest details. For example, someone would show up late at a gathering, and I would label them as flaky and be justified that I do not have that shortcoming. Or someone would fail to give me the attention I crave, and I would think of them as bad listeners or bad friends. But when I’m judging outwardly, I’m ignoring one of the most important commandments- to love my neighbors as myself. I’m incapable to turn my personal sins around to love others at all times, but I know God can. So I remain hopeful.