Woe to you
The twenty-third chapter of Matthew records Jesus speaking judgment against the religious leaders of the day. Six times we find the words, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites!”
I find it easy to criticize the Pharisees. Their self-righteousness and hypocrisy are revealed in both attitude and action; all found upon the pages of the four Gospels. I find it far more difficult to identify my own self-righteousness and hypocrisy.
What are we neglecting?
Brock DeWald challenged our church staff to envision a range of attitude and behavior that places the Pharisees at one end and Jesus at the other. Then, with that range in mind, identify where we would place ourselves upon the spectrum. Few of us would say, “I’m right there with the Pharisees.” Fewer still would say, “I’m right there with Jesus.”
As we mature our lives should more and more resemble the life Jesus lived. He is our model and our example in both attitude and action.
Sunday we asked ourselves, “What are we neglecting?” The Pharisees, as seen in Matthew 23:23-34, lived by the letter of the law. Believing personal righteousness results from steadfast adherence to a code of ethics, they worked hard to fulfill every aspect of 613 laws; 365 expressed with “thou shall not” and 248 with “thou shall.”
While affirming their dedication and diligence, Jesus identified broad, over-arching principles that are far more important than rule following. Jesus said, “You have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.”
I find it easy to slip into the trap of making my own spiritual journey all about what I do. The responsibilities associated with church leadership can easily replace the over-arching principles Jesus calls me to live by.
We are created for more
Our walk with Jesus is about much, much more than simply following a set of rules. Our personal righteousness is about much, much more than moral or ethical expectations. Our walk with Jesus is about the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness.