23 “Woe to you, [self-righteous] scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you give a tenth (tithe) of your mint and dill and cumin [focusing on minor matters], and have neglected the weightier [more important moral and spiritual] provisions of the Law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the [primary] things you ought to have done without neglecting the others. 24 You [spiritually] blind guides, who strain out a gnat [consuming yourselves with minuscule matters] and swallow a camel [ignoring and violating God’s precepts]!
Relationships are absolutely key to a fruitful spiritual life. In order to honor God’s precepts or commands, we need a vibrant and growing relationship with the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. This is how we can love and obey God with our whole heart, soul, and mind (Mat. 22:37). Loving God in a proper way is the only way we can turn to love our “neighbors” which is also a part of God’s precepts or commands we must honor. We need to cultivate our relationships with family, friends, and extend compassion to everyone else including those with whom we would rather not (because we don’t like them!)
I frequently remind people it is easy to love those who agree with you and never unsettle or mistreat you. Yet, you don’t need a “heap of amazing grace” for the easy relationships. The times we need a miraculous “heap of amazing grace” is when we find ourselves cornered, disliked, maligned, condemned, etc., because God says we have only loved others the way he loves us when we offer justice to the unjust, mercy to the unmerciful, and faithfulness to the unfaithful.
God expects his children—believers who are being made in his image—to reflect his character in relationships. We should be especially kind and compassionate to other believers. So, the next time someone treats you unjustly, remember you must live righteously with God, neighbors, as well as natural creation. When someone refuses to extend you mercy, remember God spilled his mercy and compassion over you even when you rejected him. And, faithfulness is all about adhering to the truth of God’s love. Every day we would be wise to pray and welcome God into every moment, because sure enough at some point you will need that miraculous “heap of amazing grace” in order to reflect the character of our Father to someone else. If we fail to extend justice, mercy, and faithfulness to others, we have ignored and violated God’s precepts and commands.
Prayer: Lord, sometimes the people who think they are the most righteous are really the most unkind. Please help me to be an example of the justice, mercy, and faithfulness you always extend to me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.