Friday, July 29, 2011


[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!
[25] "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. [26] You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.
[27] "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. [28] So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Matthew 23:23-28 (ESV)

The second two woes here, are further explanations of the first woe, of how in following the law, they failed to follow the law. They concentrated on the easier things, and neglected the weightier things. It isn’t that they should not have tithed cumin and dill, though Jesus is poking fun at them a bit for how seriously they take the rules on tithing, but that they did that as a pretense of upholding the law, while on the other hand ignoring God’s word all together. It is the baptist who quits smoking as a pretense for following God’s word, yet denies his child baptism, has an affair, and then engages the gospel mill with unforgiving judgmentalism, all the while criticizing others for taking God’s word seriously, and baptizing their children.
I always feel a bit uneasy though, in pointing out another’s hypocrisy. I’m not immune to it myself. However, it needs to be pointed out when it is seen. It is in fact the only loving thing to do. You can’t just turn a blind eye to it, and not say anything about someone twisting God’s word and leading others astray.
The gospel is freeing though. It frees you from compulsion to appear righteous, because it makes you righteous. It declares you righteous, even while acknowledging your sinfulness. So it introduces a paradox. It allows you to acknowledge your own sinfulness, while taking comfort in the righteousness of Christ that is yours, and proclaiming it to others. It allows you to stop taking yourself seriously, and begin taking others seriously. And in my experience, people find that quite refreshing. You know, you actually have more opportunity to share the gospel when your willing to drink a beer with the down hearted? People open up a little more, when you let them in? When you can laugh at yourself, people are willing to listen. When you speak their language, course as it might be, they develop an affinity for you, and begin to understand.

No comments: