23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Obedience and intent are of such importance to Christ, that in reading this passage of scripture, I can hear his disdain and frustration with these people. People that he wants to love and be in relationship with, but people that by their heartlessness, push Jesus away.
I think about the times where I justify my heartlessness towards others by using my sacrifice and obedience. I tell myself that because I spend hours serving the church in ministry, and because I give sacrificially, somehow the poor and needy neighbour, or the lonely person, or the sick associate, is someone else’s problem.
My clean, sanitized life, my ability to exert self-control over my heart and my ability to make wise decisions are fruits of my maturity as a Christian, but it is not just the maintaining of these things that will bring me closer to God from where I am now. I am called to serve the poor and save the lost with the church.
Father God, never let me lose sight of what I am really called to do. If I am to be a shepherd of your flock, may I always smell like your sheep. May I always have the outlook and care to go after the one that might go astray.
Written by Ps Justin Ware