Actions with the Heart of God
23 “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. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! Matthew 23:23-24
As I read these verses, I discerned what the Lord was trying to say. I was curious though about the spices, so I did a Google search on commentary about it. All the commentary was focused on tithing and whether it applies now or not. Interestingly, none spent much time on the heart of the Lord’s message here: What is the point of following the laws and traditions if you’re not following the heart of God?
Jesus teaches the heart of God’s law, the most important law upon which all the Mosaic laws were built when he says in Matthew 22:36-40, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Jesus puts additional weight on the 2nd commandment by adding in John 15:12, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Clearly, loving each other was important to God and was further clarified for us by His Son saying those words and then providing the action behind them – dying for us on the cross, raising from the dead to conquer sin and give us eternal life for those who believe. That’s love.
How well are we loving today? If we love well, then we will seek justice for those who have none, give mercy to those in need of it, and stay faithful, trusting in God, praying with God for the situations in your life and the lives of others. These are the weightier matters to God being referred to in Matthew 23:23. While tithing, and worship, teaching, and other activities that take place in our church are important, what do they mean to God if we are not treating others with the heart of God? Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart with all vigilance for from it flow the springs of life.”
We will teach others how to love well. We will disciple on what it means to love well in all situations: with those who have addictions; with those who are mean and abusive; and with those who have caused serious emotional wounds. We will teach others that loving well does not include agreement with their direction, does not include being a doormat; and does not include removing your own personal boundaries. And we are guaranteed that with our flesh still throwing us here and there, some less than others, that we will make mistakes. In those moments, we can remember the freeing words of Peter in 1 Peter 4:8, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”