Practice Justice, Mercy and Faithfulness

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They way we treat people is as important as the spiritual disciplines we practice.

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matthew 23:23 (niv)

I grew up in a home where tithing was normal. When I got my first real job at age sixteen, my dad sat me down and told me that the money was, of course, mine to use as I saw fit. But, he said, he wanted to tell me that over the years, he had always tithed, that he recommended it, and that God promised to bless the generous. This made sense to me, and I made a habit of giving ten percent of all I earned.

My husband’s family did not practice tithing, for many reasons. So during the early years of our marriage, we had a lot of fights about the amount of money we would give away. I felt quite self-righteous, accused my husband of not trusting God, and so on. I was, in Jesus’ words, neglecting the more important matters. I cannot ignore Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees, because they are also His words to me. They are included in the gospel story because they are His words to all human beings, flawed as we are.

Through this verse, Jesus gently reminded me that tithing is an important discipline, but the way that I treat people—including my husband— is equally important. And writing checks is only a small part of what it means to follow Him. Was I doing anything for victims of injustice? Was I being merciful, even to those I disagreed with? Was I being faithful to God’s calling—not only with my money but also with my life?

FAITH STEP: This verse tells us we should practice justice, mercy and faithfulness. Write down one specific action you will take this week in each of these areas.

Written by Keri Wyatt Kent

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