“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23:23 NKJV)
The Pharisees knew their stuff. They knew the Law backwards and forwards. They’d follow the Law dwn to the smallest matter, including, as Jesus pointed out here, making sure they paid a full tithe as written in the Scriptures. They are great examples of that old saying about people who can’t see the forest because they’re looking at all the trees. Rather than focusing on the most important parts of the Law, they were obsessing over the small details that were unimportant in the long run. Jesus assumed that the Pharisees would tithe; what He wanted was for them to look at the important matters of life in the Kingdom of God: justice, mercy, and faith. It’s a theme echoed by many of the Old Testament prophets: God doesn’t want your money, or your sacrifices so much as He wants you to show those positive characteristics that define a follower of Christ. The Pharisees were so lost in the minutia of obeying God, that they weren’t able to obey Him in the big things.
When people ask how you show your faith, how do you respond? Do you talk about going to church? That’s a good thing that all Christians should do, so don’t forget that. Do you mention your work among the underprivileged and those who are oppressed? Or is your area of ministry different and you work in a place where you never get a chance to show others about your faith? Do you give lots of money to support ministries that you can’t actively participate in? All those activities may be wonderful ways to exercise your faith, but do you show justice and mercy toward others? That’s the hard part of faith, isn’t it? Odds are, that the people you need to show justice and mercy to don’t deserve either. Of course, that’s exactly why we need to do that. “Impossible!” you say? Perhaps, but when we recognize how much justice and mercy God showed us, we should be able to show justice and mercy to others. So do all those other good things, but don’t forget the more important parts of God’s plan for us.
Lord, it’s so easy to get lost in the small things of my belief. Remind me to observe the weightier things of Your way: justice, mercy, and faith. May I always show those attributes to others in all I do.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.