August 8

Text: Matthew 23:23-24

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.  You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!  (NASB)

This woe deals with focusing on small matters of righteous behavior to the exclusion of important matters.  In righteousness matters, there always have been people who wanted to stress details.   They never see small matters as small!  Yet, they have no clue why others are upset by important matters. 

It is as if “those people” are concerned about silly things.  For example, the color scheme in the auditorium is major—members ought to be upset if “they” are using those colors!  But why are people “getting bent out of shape” because we must eliminate benevolence in economically hard times?  The color scheme in our worship area is not optional, but benevolence is. 

Small matters are significant; large matters are optional.  Examine the “where and what” that attract emotional investments.  How often is righteous behavior determined by response to something not mentioned in the Bible?  How often is something ignored that receives significant Bible emphasis?

A righteous Israelite must be careful to give 10% of his herbs—mint, dill, and cummin (which had little monetary value).  It was required!  However, the same person could neglect matters of justice, mercy, or faithfulness with little or nothing said.  They strained out the smallest unclean creature (the gnat) while swallowing a huge unclean creature (the camel) [see Leviticus 11:2-4, 20-23].  To such people, righteousness was a matter of technicalities.  If one was conscientious in small matters, big matters were not important.

Jesus did not say that small technicalities should be neglected.  He said both small and large matters were important.  To neglect small or large matters produced spiritual blindness. 

Never conclude dedication to small technicalities hides the neglect of important divine expectations.

Suggestion for reflection: How do we allow God to determine importance?  (Read Luke 11:9-13.)

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