Jesus’ warnings to religious leaders: don’t be mean with people

I was a Pastor for 21 years and led 2 churches. In all that time I never got involved in the banking of the church offerings except for one occasion in the early years when on one occasion the treasurer was unable to go because of illness. As I was depositing the money I noticed one of the cheques had a strange amount registered. It wasn’t the size of the amount that was of concern. It was how the amount was so exact. In fact all that is etched in my memory is that the cheque ended in .33 pence. This was a member’s tithe cheque and I was amazed that they had not thought of at least rounding it up or even down! It was so exact!

“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. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23 v 23-24)

The outside can look perfect but inside your heart it can be tight, stingy and impoverished.

We need to learn to be generous in our hearts.

 The Pharisees were not even putting exactly .33 pence in terms of their dealings with people. They had no thoughts towards those who needed help, justice and love. If only they had given such meticulous attention to their cause never mind being like God who is lavish and extravagant.

Their hearts were not seeking justice and love for the people around them. Jesus would soon show that to carry justice and love in your heart is to suffer but is the pathway to resurrection and new life. The Pharisees had a word for this justice in their language, ‘tzedek’ it meant for right relationships with God, mankind, ourselves and the world they lived in. Jesus came to reconcile all 4 of those relationships where love and justice met on the cross.

TODAY let our hearts to be large and loud towards people and our relationships. Let us not be stingy or even exact but let us extravagantly, generously love and help people who are in need.

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