The Lord had said to His disciples in Matthew 23:2-3, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” To ‘sit in Moses’s seat’ was to be in a position of authority. These men were teachers, and as long as they taught correctly from the scriptures, they were to be obeyed. However, these teachers did not even obey their own words…‘they say, and do not.’ This is hypocrisy! Seven times in Matthew 23, the Lord calls the scribes and Pharisees ‘hypocrites’. Each time the Lord calls them hypocrites, He points out an example of their phony behavior. I encourage you to read this entire chapter to see how harshly the Lord talked to and dealt with these deceptive men.

Twice in Matthew 23, the Lord called these men ‘blind guides.’ We read the Lord’s words in Luke 6:39, “…Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” So, the Lord warned His disciples, and us, about false people, who say one thing and do another.

Now let’s look at the verse in question. In Matthew 23:23 the Lord said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” Eight times in this chapter, the Lord had pronounced ‘Woe’ upon these men because of their hypocrisy. These men were careful to obey portions of the law, but ignored other portions. They paid their tithes according to Leviticus 27:30 which says, “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.” Yet, the more important points of the law were overlooked.

These men had forgotten about the most important aspects of the Word of the Lord: judgment (or justice), mercy, and faith. In Micah 6:6-8 we read, “Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” These are the weightier matters. This is what the Lord desired of men, indeed this is what the Lord still desires of men.

It is much easier to simply give of our resources to the Lord, and it is proper to do so. 1 Corinthians 16:2 teaches us, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him…” However, let us not forget the more important matters:

  • We should live lives of judgment, or justice, which means that we treat all men in a fair and just manner. James 2:1 says, “My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”
  • We should be compassionate and kind towards those around us as we read in Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
  • We must walk in faith, trusting the Lord in all situations, allowing Him to be Lord of our lives. May we be able to honestly say the words of 2 Timothy 1:12, “…I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

Let us all keep in mind, the words of the Lord in Matthew 6:16, “…be not as the hypocrites.” (174.6)