The timing of our Bible Reading Plan has worked to coincide with the events leading up to Jesus’ arrest and execution in time for Good Friday and Easter. We know, from His own words, that Jesus came to Earth with the intent of sacrificing His life, and we also see how the evil intent of His enemies played into the process. The hatred of these adversaries grew as Jesus challenged their religion and the fact that it placed high value on outward appearances, and willingly hid inner hypocrisy. Here is an example of something Jesus taught that infuriated the religious phonies:
“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. 24 Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel! 25 “What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! 26 You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too.” Matthew 23:23-26 (NLT)
This gets to the heart of what God cares about. Tithing (giving the first 10% of your income to God’s work) is important, but it is not to replace showing others mercy, justice, and living by faith. Similarly, attending worship is important, but it is not meant to replace humble prayer and repentance …otherwise it’s like only washing the outside of a dish and leaving the inside covered with rotten moldy crud.
As Good Friday and Easter approach, I hope you will join me in carving out some time to ask God to help us do an internal audit of our thoughts and motives. Let’s invite Him to lead us, so that our outward acts reflect true devotion and gratitude, for His love and forgiveness.