“But woe to you Pharisees! You give a tenth of mint, rue, and every kind of herb, and you bypass justice and love for God. These things you should have done without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! You love the front seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! You are like unmarked graves; the people who walk over them don’t know it.” (Luke 11:42, HCSB).
Jesus was invited to the home of a Pharisee to dine with him. Presumably several scribes and Pharisees were also present at the dinner.
Soon after they sat down to eat, Jesus pronounced three “woes” on the Pharisees. Maybe insulting your dinner host was not the most polite thing for a guest to do, but Jesus just couldn’t keep quiet about hypocrisy.
In the first woe, Jesus acknowledged that the Pharisees tithed on everything down to the smallest detail. Yet, in their zeal to obey the letter of the law they disregarded the spirit of the law. They did not practice justice and love for God.
They couldn’t see the forest for the trees!
The second woe was pronounced on them because the Pharisees loved the spotlight more than God. Although they were faithful in their attendance at the synagogue, they wanted people to see them there or see them on their way to the synagogue and think how good and righteous they were.
The third woe could be interpreted in a couple of ways, but either way the results were the same–God’s law was not transformative in their lives.
Jesus might have meant that nobody could even tell how righteous they were because they were like unmarked graves. More likely, Jesus meant that the example and the teachings of the Pharisee were like people walking over an unmarked grave causing them to become defiled without even knowing it.
In other words, while the lifestyle and teachings of the Pharisees seemed genuine and true, in reality it was corrupting and misleading.
The behaviors of the Pharisees denounced by Jesus demonstrate that there’s more to serving God than just doing right things.
You have to do right things the right way!
Or more specifically, you have to do right things with the right attitude.
And you can, in fact, do right things wrong.
In other words, you can do the right things for the wrong reasons. And then it becomes hypocrisy!
It’s the right thing to give God’s Kingdom your financial support, participate in worship gatherings of God’s people, and live a holy life for God and teach others how to live for God.
But you should do these things because you love God and want to please Him and not because you want people to think highly of you.
You see, only God is righteous and only He can make us righteous when we get close to Him!