As we continue through the book of Luke, we come to a meeting between Jesus and a Pharisee. I don’t think that the Pharisee knew what he was getting into as he ate with the Lord.
When Jesus had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to eat with him; so he went in and reclined at the table. But the Pharisee, noticing that Jesus did not first wash before the meal, was surprised.
Luke 11:37-38 NIV
The first thing we need to realize is that Jesus did not have bad hygiene. The washing this refers to, is a ceremonial washing. It was a tradition that sometimes could take up to an hour to accomplish before a meal, even though everything that was washed was already clean.
When He saw the Pharisee’s surprise, Jesus takes the time to explain things to him. The Lord wants to show this leader that there are more important things than following tradition.
Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also?”
Luke 11:39 NIV
Jesus is talking here about the Pharisees themselves. They are very outward conscious. What people thought about them was more important than their inner character. Jesus is now going to bring that to their attention.
He literally tells them that they’re acting mindlessly. They’re not taking into account the fact that God places greater importance on what’s on the inside of a person.
He sees their lives as full of greed and wickedness. They grasp at what they want with no regard to God’s will for them. They have evil motives, but no one can see this part of their lives.
“You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? But give what is inside [the dish] to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.”
Luke 11:40-41 NIV
The Lord makes it clear that they should be following God’s law instead. They should live as givers. They should be trying to be a blessing to those around them who are in need. That would be a “cleaner” lifestyle.
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”
Luke 11:42 NIV
Jesus makes it clear that these Pharisees were practicing tradition over substance in their walk with God. They were doing some of the things required by the law, but neglecting the heart of it.
Actually, what they were doing amazes me when I think about it. They even tithed (donated ten percent as an offering) from the herbs they grew in their gardens.
I wouldn’t have even thought about doing that. Counting how many basil leaves I picked and then giving ten percent to the temple. It would be a tiny amount. Yet these leaders were doing just that.
The problem was, they were doing it to look good in front of the people. They loved the reaction. “Look! He even tithed from the mint he grew!”
They weren’t doing it out of love for God. They wanted the adoration of the people.
But that brings me to the application of this. Why do we do what we do? Do we have pure motives for how we serve God?
Why do we attend church every week? Is it because we worry about what people would think if we missed? Or, is it because we love being in the presence of the Lord and His people?
This is the same for any “religious” activity. We need to be asking ourselves if we’re doing it because of tradition, or out of love for our God? God looks at the heart. Motives are everything.
Make it a point to cultivate a true love for the Lord. All that we do should proceed from that relationship.
Question: How is your love for God being manifest to those around you?
© 2022 Nick Zaccardi