Are You Up to the Task?

Are You Up to the Task?

Luke 11.42-44 reads; “Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”

“Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.”

“Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.”

We have an interesting way of reading scripture and interpreting it. Just like the Pharisees we view it from our own point of view and for our own benefit. What benefits do the Pharisees want? What kind of benefits do you want?

(1) We want to have the appearance of religion or spirituality. We do things such as tithing preciously. The Pharisees were expert in this. There were certain dues which the meticulously orthodox would never omit to pay. The first fruits of the soil. The first fruits of the seven kinds--wheat, barley, vines, fig-trees, pomegranates, olives, and honey--were offered in the Temple. There was the Terumah. The first fruits were given to God, but the Terumah was a contribution to the upkeep of the priests. It was the presentation of the first fruits of every growing thing. The amount to be given was one-fiftieth of the total yield. There was also the tithe. The tithe was paid directly to the Levites, who, in turn, paid a tithe of what they received to the priests. It was one-tenth of "everything that can be used as food and is cultivated and grows out of the earth." The meticulousness of the Pharisees in tithing is shown by the fact that even the law said it was not necessary to tithe rue. No matter what their inner hearts and feelings were like, however much they neglected justice and forgot love, they never omitted the tithe.

Many argue that Jesus nor the New Testament mentioned tithing. Notice what Jesus said, “…you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.” Jesus assumes that all God Followers tithe but adds that we should also practice justice and love of God. One way to show God our love is to love what He loves. He loves all people and we must also love them.

(2) We so much want to be respected and noticed as important. How else do we explain the very worship of celebrities? Did you notice how the Senators rushed to the microphone to be the first to speak following an important bill being passed? The Pharisees were always seeking respect and adoration. The chief seats at the synagogue were the seats out in front facing the audience. In the congregation itself the best seats were at the front, and they decreased in honor the further back they got. The advantage of these seats was that they could be seen by all! The more exaggerated the respect of the greetings the Pharisees received in the streets the better they were pleased.

We all receive invitations to different events. Are you offended when a big party or other event is taking place and you do not get an invitation? Do you want to be an Elder or Deacon in your church or an officer of your particular club? Are you broken when you are not nominated or elected?

(3) Jesus now offers as fact this conclusion; “Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which people walk over without knowing it.” Numbers19:16 suggests that "whoever in the open field touches a grave shall be unclean seven days." To be unclean was to be debarred from all religious worship. Now, it might be that a man might touch a grave without knowing that he was doing it. That did not matter; its touch made him unclean. Jesus said that the Pharisees were exactly like that. Although men might not know it, their influence could do nothing but harm. All unawares, the man who met them was being touched by evil. Men might not suspect the corruption, but it was there. All the time they were being infected with wrong ideas of God and of His demands.

I have a few questions for you. Do you fall into the category of the Pharisees, the elite? We have so many elites today. People clamor for attention, for respect. Young people take great pride in how many followers they have on social media. They are crushed when they lose followers. Are you a child of God driven by obedience to Jesus Christ? Are you motivated by obeying Him no matter the cost? There is no glory in being a Christ Follower. There is pain and difficulty but little glory. Are you motivated to seek justice, minister grace, to love God, and to love everyone? It is a tall order. It means running counter to our culture. Are you up to the task?

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