I love how you can see something new each time you read the Bible! A few weeks ago, when I read through Matthew 23, I was mesmerized by the phrase “whitewashed tombs“. But, when I read through it again yesterday, I saw something new in Jesus’s rebuke of the Pharisees.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” Matthew 23:23 (ESV)
In this passage, we see that the Pharisees’ priorities were all out of whack. They were focused on the letter of the law but they didn’t understand God’s heart. They were more focused on what they could do for God, instead of understanding who God had called them to be. Their desire was to work and work and work so they could be valuable or accepted.
They focused on their works so much that they didn’t know how to be like God.
God is justice.
God is mercy.
God is faithful.
And the Pharisees were none of those things. They were unjust, cruel, and devoted to themselves.
What intrigues me about each of these characteristics of God is that they each involve people. You know a person is just, merciful, or faithful based on how they treat others. The Pharisees’ mistreatment of others showed just how hard their hearts had become. They claimed to love and serve God but their actions directly hurt people who were loved by God.
I have found that when I’m not focused on God, my priorities have a tendency to get way out of whack. My focus turns inward, my emotions are shut off, and I don’t really care about anyone else. I become like the Pharisees: I look good on the outside and do all of the things a “good Christian” should do, but the heart behind it is wrong. And, as I’ve been learning all this year, God is passionate about our hearts.
What do your actions reveal about your priorities?
And how do you make sure your priorities are in line with God’s priorities?
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