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“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:23).

Jesus paints two word pictures here. The first is of a balance scale; in one bowl are justice, mercy and faithfulness; on the other side, as if they could counter-balance these significant matters, are 10% portions of mint, dill and cumin!  The second picture, also a word play, is of a strainer which filtered out a gnat, while the cup of wine still contains a camel (galma and gamla, respectively, in the original language).  This vivid imagery is meant to underscore the heart of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 23: the heart of God’s ways for humans is justice, mercy and faithfulness. But when we neglect these while thinking we are fine because we give 10% of our paycheck, we deceive ourselves. We are hypocrites.  This is the heart of the matter.

Prayer – Father, help me to focus my energies on justice, mercy and faithfulness. 

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