“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” Luke 11:42
Jesus confronted religious legalists with their narrow mindedness. In this particular case, He pointed out how the Pharisees, in their quest to practice the law of tithing neglected the laws of love and justice. They had elevated, in their own minds, the practice of “tithing” as more important than “justice and the love of God.”
Perhaps they simply started off with practicing the spiritual discipline of tithing and in their obsessive quest to legally perfect the discipline, they simply neglected the cry for justice and need to love God. Perhaps they found it easier to do the math with tithing than with justice and love. Perhaps they were more concerned with being able to technically and numerically justify themselves among their critics. That would much easier with tithing. All they’d have to do is show their contribution record as proof.
I don’t believe these Pharisees intended to neglect “justice and the love of God.” I think they were guilty of majoring on minors and thus, minored on the majors.
We are often guilty of doing the same thing today. Could Jesus not say the same about our commitment to regularly attend weekly church services and our neglect of living a missional lifestyle that includes every follower of Christ sharing the gospel? Both are important. We are called to regularly worship God together with other believers (Heb 10:24-25) and commanded to preach the gospel to all the world (Matt 28:19-20). But why is it that only 3-5% of all Christians in America ever share their faith while the majority of Christians in America attend church services (even if it is only Easter or Christmas Eve)?
Think about this for a moment. People are born sinners and will die for their sin and suffer an eternal death unless they hear and respond to the Gospel. Jesus has commissioned us to live as “fishers of men” and to get the message out to everyone while there is still time. And yet, all too often, we are very content to simply attend church services on a Sunday and think God is satisfied with our weekly commitment to sit, sing, and fellowship with other believers.
The condition of those who’ve yet to receive Christ ought to grieve us. In fact, it should move us to prioritize the mandate of evangelism. That does not mean we are justified in neglecting weekly worship services. We just need to make sure we are majoring on all the majors.
Remember, Jesus said, “These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”