May 9

Text: Matthew 15:3-6

And He answered and said to them, "And why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?  For God said, 'HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,' and, 'HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, LET HIM BE PUT TO DEATH.'  But you say, 'Whoever shall say to his father or mother, "Anything of mine you might have been helped by has been given to God," he is not to honor his father or his mother.' And thus you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. (NASB)

The unethical say that there is always a “legal” way around a law.  Thus this person uses a law to defy a law.  Our society loves a “loophole.”  The issue is not the intent of the law defied—the issue is this: “Is what I am doing ‘legal?’”  Too many feel vindicated if they can “legally” justify deliberate rebellion.

In our minds, God is an arbitrator of laws: What matters to God are laws, not His intents and purposes.  If we wish to defy a “law” we do not like, we look for a “loophole” law that will “justify” our rebellion. 

Jesus quoted two laws.  Exodus 20:12 was embedded in the first recorded laws given to Israel.  Exodus 21:17 stressed the importance of the law’s intent.  Yet, they set aside God’s intent for Israelites to care for aging parents by creating a “loophole” based on human reasoning.

The reasoning seems to have gone like this: (1) The temple contained God’s presence on earth.  (2) A gift to the temple was a gift to God.  (3) It was more important to give to God than to give to your parents.  (4) If a pledge to God (the temple) prohibited one from helping parents, no sin was incurred.

Thus the practice of some became this: make a pledge to the temple so one could neglect the needs of parents.  One could tell parents in need that “what I would have given to you I gave to the temple.”

The problem: (1) The temple existed as the result of human desire, not divine command (see 2 Samuel 7:7).  (2) A gift to a parent in need was a gift to God—a gift that fulfilled His divine intent.

The point: God has priorities.  Those priorities are not based on human reasoning or desires.  The issue is not what do we prefer, but do we fulfill God’s intent.

Suggestion for reflection: Do we serve God, or does God serve us?  (Read Isaiah 65:1-3.) 

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