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 (Matt. 23:23).
But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others (Luke 11:42).
You know how there are some passages that you have always known about, but they become more significant to you due to certain life experiences. This is one of those passages for me. I’ve given quite a bit of thought lately to the weightier matters of the law. It’s not so much that I was guilty of intentional violation, but this concept has become more a part of my thought process.
This passage teaches that there are certain things that are weightier than others. There are certain concepts that are more fundamental than others. In one sense, this seems obvious, yet it is easy to overlook. It is easy to get bogged down in the minutia and forget about the bigger items.
Note that the passage states that the Pharisees should continue to tithe in a detailed fashion, but they shouldn’t have left out the most important matters. The details are important, and even necessary. After all, these characteristics can not be lived in the abstract. Love, justice, and faithfulness must be seen in concrete action. The key is that the details cannot become an end in themselves. Details cannot be divorced from matters of importance. They must be understood in relationship to the weightier matters.
Here’s the hard part, and why it is easy to slip into the same problem as the Pharisees. Seeking the weightier matters requires continual self-examination. We must ask ourselves if we are displaying the love of God in this action, if we are pursuing justice when we act in that way. This line of questioning will also move us out of the cold, ritualistic type of behavior. Our actions will be endued with fresh life as we pursue what is most important in every aspect of our life. Our faith will become proactive as we continually seek expressions and actions that give flesh to the concepts of love, mercy, justice and righteousness.
Dear God, help me to seek what is most important in life! May I pursue qualities that reflect your glory, and may this pursuit fill my life with meaning and purpose, resulting in true joy in you.