This list of kingdom attitudes is a completely different approach to righteousness, both for the Jews then and for us today. When it comes to righteousness, our primary associations are external deeds and outward actions. This is because our real, physical, everyday world deals with people who can’t see our hearts. We forget that God sees not only our actions but also our character. Virtue signaling is a great example of this. Like with the Pharisees of Jesus’s day, people in our age on the right, left, and everywhere in between love to signal their virtue through external expressions and appearances (bumper stickers, yard signs, tattoos, T-shirts, social media posts) while often lacking true virtue, character, and purity of heart. In the context of contemporary ethics and morality, virtue becomes a great show, a theater, an act, a presentation for all to see (often motivated by selfish ambition). Jesus wants a pure heart, not a righteous facade; he desires real, inner character and virtue that produces real, outer fruits of righteousness: acts of mercy, justice, and love in faithful communion and fellowship with others.
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