Costly Obedience (Matthew 23:23) - Radical

Costly Obedience (Matthew 23:23)

“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for you tithe of mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.”
– Matthew 23:23

What a statement, Jesus starts with, a woe, woe to you, condemnation upon you.

Matthew 23:23 Narrates Jesus’ Rebuke of the Pharisees

This is a strong rebuke to scribes and Pharisees whom he calls hypocrites. Why? Because they tithe mint and dill and cummin. They do these minor matters of the law, but they neglect the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faithfulness. And Jesus isn’t saying that minor matters of the law aren’t important. He says, “These you ought to have done without neglecting the others.” And if we’re not careful, we can be guilty in the same way of focusing on little things, not unimportant, but little things that God has called us to do in his word while neglecting the weightiest things God has called us to do in His word, and specifically here, justice and mercy and faithfulness.

Oh, we don’t want to neglect those things. We want to do justice and love, mercy and faithfully obey God, walk with God in every way he’s called us to, and if we’re not careful, we can do certain things that are easy for us and convenient for us and comfortable to us while neglecting things that are costly to us. Can I just say that one more time and let that reality here in Matthew 23:23 lead us into prayer? If we’re not careful, we can obey God and do things that are easy for us and comfortable to us and neglect, obeying God in ways that are costly to us.

And so we pray, God, help us not to be hypocrites. We don’t want to be hypocrites in this way. Lord, we don’t want to neglect weighty matters in your word. We don’t want to do that which is most comfortable and least costly to us while neglecting that which takes us out of our comfort zones and may lead to cost in different ways, specifically as we do justice and love, mercy and faithfully walk with you.

Matthew 23:23 Encourages Us to Bold Costly Obedience

So God, we pray that you’d help us to do those things. God help us no matter what it costs, to do justice, to work for that which is right and good according to your word for people in the world, particularly people who are hurting, who are impoverished, who are disadvantaged, who are suffering, who are oppressed, or experiencing injustice in all the ways we see all over your word that you call your people to do justice.

Lord help us do justice no matter what comforts that means leaving behind or how costly that might be. God, help us to love mercy. God, help us to show mercy in every way today to people around us. Help us to love mercy and faithfulness. God, help us to walk faithfully with you according to all of your word, not just the parts of your word we like or are drawn to, but even the parts that we are naturally inclined to disobey.

God, supernaturally transform us. Help us walk faithfully with you in every way you’ve called us to, that we are not hypocrites. Lord, deliver us from all of our tendencies toward hypocrisy. God, we pray that you help us to obey all of your word. Help us obey the small things, the big things, the lighter things and the weightier things. And particularly God, we pray you’d help us to do justice and love, mercy and walk faithfully with you. God, we pray specifically today, he would help us to live, to make disciples of all the nations of people right around us and peoples around the world.

Praying for the Chut People

We pray for the Chut people of Vietnam who’ve not been reached with the gospel. God, please help us to obey your command to make disciples of all the nations. We pray that you would raise up laborers to go to the Chut people of Vietnam. Lord, that they might be reached with your grace and your love and the gospel. Help us not neglect the spread of your grace and glory to 3 billion people who’ve never heard it. God, we pray that you would use our lives in however way you desire no matter what it costs to make disciples of all the nations. We pray all of this according to your word in Matthew 23:23. In Jesus name, amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical, a ministry that exists to equip Christians to be on mission.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the following volumes in the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series: Exalting Jesus in MatthewExalting Jesus in JamesExalting Jesus in 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, and Exalting Jesus in Galatians.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Resources from David Platt can be found at radical.net.

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