"Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone." (Luke 11:42)
“I go to church, I sing along and raise my hands in worship, I listen to the sermon, and I’m a pretty good person. What more could God want?” I wonder if we sometimes take so much pride in all of the spiritual things we do because it makes us feel better about the other areas of obedience we choose to ignore. We consider ourselves good because we go to church, but when someone hurts us we refuse to forgive. We consider ourselves good because we worship hard on Sundays but when someone gets on our nerves we let them have it. Going to church is a great thing BUT our call to obedience doesn’t end there.
In Luke 11 we find Jesus rebuking the Pharisees...not for what they did but for what they did not do. You see, their obedience to God in tithing was intentional and calculated. They gave God ten percent of everything they had including their herb gardens where they counted to the very last seed and leaf. Talk about meticulous obedience, and this was a good thing! They were not being rebuked for their tithing but for their selective obedience. They chose to obey His call to give their tithe while purposefully neglecting His call to give…their love. If only they could apply this same careful obedience to the tithe to a careful obedience to love those around them they would truly be living for Jesus.
As we begin a new series at church entitled “A Whole New World” where we are addressing current events, political hardship, and the world’s moral decay the main theme each weekend is how we can turn the hardships, issues, and unrest back to Jesus and live in a manner that is honoring to Him, and this rebuke to the Pharisees affirms this message. May our commitment to spiritual disciplines like church attendance, tithing, and devotion be matched by our commitment to love, to forgive, to show mercy and grace. May we not fall victim to selective obedience where we only obey when it’s convenient, or only within the 4 walls of the church, but may we truly understand His call to give love. The world is seemingly getting darker by the minute, and God has called His children to shine His light by giving His love.
Jesus, please forgive me for my nearsightedness in obeying in some areas and neglecting so many others. Please help me to commit to both inward spiritual disciplines and outward displays of Your love. I can’t do it without You, so please fill me that I might freely give. In Your name, Amen!