Jesus and the Pharisees

Luke 11: 42

But woe to you Pharisees!  For you pay tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb, and yet disregard justice and the love of God; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.

Jesus exclaimed to the Pharisees that they should tithe but in so doing they should not neglect justice and the love of God. They had one part down, at least they were tithing, but they were not showing the kindness, love and mercy that God requires.

Some people say that tithing is an Old Testament idea. Apparently, they forgot to tell Jesus. He says that the Pharisees were correct in their giving of ten percent of their income but that they erred in what they withheld. Jesus told them that the love of God extends beyond the tithe. It must be expressed to our fellows through tenderness, grace, kindness and a gentle heart.

We know that Jesus had real issues with the Pharisees and I find it easy sometimes to look down my nose at them. I like to think that if I had lived in those days I would not have erred the way the Pharisees did. We are more sophisticated in our faith and in revelation knowledge, aren’t we? But then I look around and I wonder . . . are we bountiful in justice and mercy? Do we express the love of God that He has so abundantly given to us? 

And what of the tithe? Statistics tell us that an extremely small percentage of American Christians tithe? This makes me wonder. If Jesus were to tarry, how will future generations perceive us? Will they say that we were much more savvy and dedicated in our faith than our predecessors? Or will they think we were the generation that served God with our lips but our hearts were far away (Matthew 15:8). Is Jesus’ blood calling us hypocrites? Do we serve him only with our mouths but not with our hearts or even our pocketbooks? Tithing should be the easy part, even the Pharisees did that. And if we have withheld our hearts and the gifts of our bounty, how can we change a generation of people?

Judgment has not been given into our hands but intercession has. We do not need a move of the Holy Spirit in order to pray for our church, land and generation. We are living in a better dispensation that the nation of Israel. We have a better covenant based on better promises and with a better mediator (Hebrews 8: 6). It seems that we ought, therefore, to be able to live a life beyond that of the Pharisees; a life of greater enlightenment and grace and of more impactful prayers since we can pray in the name of Jesus. Individually and then collectively we can become the people of God’s hand, a people after His own heart. As we allow the love of God which has been shed abroad in our hearts to bloom and swell it overflows with love for all people and generosity is a by-product of the grace that our Father has shown us. You and I can change our nation, our town and our church. When we clasp hands and faith in the name above all names, mountains must move. Let us be known as the mighty church.