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Gene’s Daily Scriptural Postings

“And” is Better than “Or”: Matthew 23:1-36

Focus Passage: Matthew 23:1-36 (NASB)

Tucked within Matthew’s chapter full of Jesus’ challenges to the scribes and Pharisees, we can find an interesting concept played out regarding what God wants from His people and how the religious leaders missed it.

In these challenges, Matthew tells us Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (v. 23-24)

This section describes how the scribes and Pharisees were incredibly detailed and meticulous, but in their laser-like focus on certain religious instructions, they had missed the big picture of what God wanted.

When reading this section, it is easy to get caught in an “either/or” mentality. We see how these religious leaders were exceptionally detailed with their tithing, but they missed out on the justice, mercy, and faithfulness aspects of the law. If we are not careful, any four of these sections can be focused on at the exclusion of the others. Just like tithe can become the primary focus, so could justice, mercy, or faithfulness.

If justice is focused on like these leaders focused on their tithing, then we will find a group of believers who are critical of others and any sins they see present in those around them. If mercy was focused on like these leaders focused on their tithing, then we will find a group of believers that resemble a support group, and while it is a prime place for people to go to be accepted, they may not actually grow out of their challenges or towards God. If faithfulness was focused on like these leaders focused on their tithing, then we might find a group of believers who have such high personal standards that others may be turned off and think that they would never fit in or be welcome. Focusing on only one of the four areas Jesus describes misses God’s picture for His people.

Jesus finishes by emphasizing the importance of all four areas when He says, “These are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.” (v. 23b)

Moving forward with our faith, trust, and belief in Jesus should balance these four areas. We should focus on being faithful, extending mercy, displaying justice/justness, and giving generously. When we have these areas of our lives and character in balance, then we are living as Jesus lived, and being the people God created us to be.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus “Reflective Bible Study” package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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