Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Scribes and Pharisees

     The scribes and Pharisees were extremely concerned about the outward issues of religion and at the same time very neglectful of the inward matters.  As an example of the outward things on which they were so focused, the Savior mentioned tithing  He could have as easily used Sabbath observance or dietary habits as His example. In contrast to issues of outward conduct, Jesus called their attention to "the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith, " and Luke's gospel adds to the list, "the love of God"   Luke 11:42
     Jesus did not dismiss outward behavior as of no importance, for He said such things should not be left undone.  Rather, He was trying to shift their focus from the outward to the inward.  In God's mind there are gnat size issues and there are camel size issues.  A gnat is very small in comparison to a camel.  So there are matters of paramount importance, such as faith and love  Then there are matters of comparatively small significance, such as paying tithe and drinking gnat-free water (dietary habits).
     Remember, it is Jesus who has drawn this distinction not me. 
     But why any distinction at all?
     Jesus came right to the practical point He was leading to:  "First cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also."
     First in point of priority.  First in point of focus.  First in point of time.  "First cleanse the inside," He says.
     That. So that. In order that.  "That the outside may be clean."  
     Also.  In addition to.  As an effect of.  Coming forth from.  "That the outside may be clean also.
     In other words, focus your attention and energies on the vital matters of the heart, such as faith and love, and as a result the outward matters of reform and conduct will be taken care of in natural course--from the inside out.
     God's love in us will not fulfill the law superficially, as mere outward conformity to God's rules in order to avert His wrath and secure His favor.  When God's love penetrates the heart it creates in the wake of its influence a new spring of action, a new attitude toward God and His law, a new reason to live.
     We once lived in the passion of self-interest.  Our highest priority was our personal salvation, assuming we could do something about it by performing righteous works.  But now, in the light of God's love we live in the compelling passion of Christ-centered affection.  Our highest priority is God's glory, for we realize He saves us totally by virtue of His mercy and not because of any works of righteousness which we have done.

     (More tomorrow.  Please stay with me until you have consumed the whole book which isn't that much, but it is a compelling book to read and I hope you are enjoying it.  Grandma Joan)

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