Pastor's Blog

“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.”  (Matthew 23.23)

Jesus didn’t say tithing from the herb garden was wrong. 
He said the Pharisees should tithe from their herb garden AND not neglect weightier moral matters.

Jesus often fenced with Pharisees, so we think they are “the bad guys” of the New Testament.  But I believe Jesus spent so much time with Pharisees – and they sought him out and spent time with him – because of all the sects within Judaism the Pharisees were the closest to what Jesus was teaching

A little tweaking and they would have been right in line with Jesus.  Indeed, some of the earliest converts were Pharisees who made the necessary adjustments and aligned themselves with Jesus.

The difficulty for the Pharisees was that the parts requiring tweaking weren’t insignificant or harmless fringe ideas (like tithing herbs).  Crucial ideas, central ideas, core ideas -- weightier matters of the faith – had somehow gotten lost – and made the Pharisees a stumbling block who drove people away instead of drawing them.

The point wasn’t to condemn the Pharisees for condemnation’s sake – or even for being Pharisees – but to call them to adjust, change, repent and fix the stuff that was broken.

Sometimes people complain that I’m too hard on evangelicals. 
I am – and for the same reason.  Of all the branches of Christianity, I believe evangelicalism has the most to offer to people.  We are the easiest to understand and relate to. 

But sometimes we get so busy taking exact measurements of our dill that secondary matters are put first and the important things are ignored or missed or lost.  And that doesn’t just adversely affect Christians; it causes others to stumble at us – and at the gospel.

Seems to me the love of Christians for one another is the weighty, crucial centerpiece of the church’s effective functioning in the world.  We can’t afford to get it wrong.

There’s a little more wiggle room with dill.

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