Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.
The Pharisees extended the commandment to tithe from the produce of the lands even to the spices that they grew, but they lost sight of the spirit of the commandments. They neglected justice, mercy, and faithfulness. This is true of Christianity today. We can set up automatic electronic tithing, but we still haven’t mastered justice, mercy, and faithfulness. What systems of justice exist in Christianity are skewed in the favor of the perpetrator and often against the victim. What mercy is shown is only in the context that obeys the system of authority that is in place. Faithfulness exists more so with the authorities among each other than with the people whom the authorities have betrayed. Both Pharisees and Christians tend to neglect what is really important to focus on the details that are important to themselves.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
The Pharisees focused on an outer appearance of cleanliness, but Jesus saw through them that inside they were unclean. The same thing happens in Christianity. Many of us hide what’s going on by having an outward appearance of Christian perfection, but inwardly we’re imperfect and desperately trying to hide it. Real perfection isn’t found in what we wear or how we act, it’s something that men and women must achieve in their own hearts. Because our hearts are clean, then the rest of us will be clean, too.This reminds me of the big flaw in purity teachings – instead of telling people to clean their own hearts, a series of rules about an appropriate dress-code for ladies is established. The theory is that if the ladies are externally appropriate, the men will be internally appropriate. Each of us ought to be responsible for ourselves only, and no one else.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Like the last one, the focus is on externals and not internals. Pharisees looked like they had it all together, were right with God, were in great standing with the community, but when it came right down to it, their inward condition was one of wickedness, hypocrisy, greed, and self-indulgence. Thinking back to the various scandals in the last year or so, there’s no shortage of these traits in even the most upstanding of the disgraced pastors. Not only that, remember that they win converts by making them just like they are? Our leaders produce converts that look like great people on the outside, but can oftentimes be hiding the same traits inside.