Luke 11:42 “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.” (NIV)
Jesus was constantly challenging the hearts of the Pharisees. These Jewish people who were to be holy and devoted to God had become little more than hypocrites who spoke those things that interested them and put down those things they disliked. Much of what they said was correct, but they consistently ignored the heart of God’s law and judged those areas that were contrary to their lifestyle. It is easy to see how many Christians today have fallen into the same trap. We tend to be too judgmental and quick to walk past opportunities to love, serve, and show mercy. A recent study showed the two most common character traits of Christians are that they are hypocrites and judgmental. Our hearts should be broken at the mere insinuation that the Pharisees of Jesus’ time are the Christians of today. Today’s verse demonstrates the inseparable bond between righteousness and love. You cannot have one without the other. The Pharisees loved to preach righteousness but proved their unrighteousness by failing to love others. You also cannot say you love others while living unrighteously by breaking God’s laws. Not loving others is the result of living an unrighteous life. That is why Jesus said the law could be summed up in Luke 10:27 “He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" You have to love God first so that His life becomes your life. Your love for God will be shown out of your pursuit, love, and devotion for Him. As you passionately seek to know and hear God, you will begin to reflect the life of Jesus. A life that reflects Jesus is a life that loves others in word and deed.
Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (NIV)