I can be pretty diligent in my service to God. So much so that I can end up, for example, working late into the night, strenuously pecking at a keyboard and masterfully maneuvering my mouse to make sure some document I'm creating has the just the right font and everything is properly spaced and formatted. And while there's nothing wrong with striving for excellence, I can't help but wonder if I'm overdoing it just a tad as I read what Jesus said to the pharisees in Luke 11:42. They too were trying to be very diligent in their service to God as they paid their "tithe of mint and rue and every kind of garden herb". They didn't miss much in their commitment to God. They even made sure that their tithe included "every kind of garden herb". They weren't gonna miss one leaf.
But Jesus was concerned with much larger things that the pharisees had missed. He said that they "neglect justice and the love of God." Jesus wasn't opposed to diligence or to giving God a full tithe. In fact, He said in verse 43 that they should have brought their tithes without neglecting the other things. But woe to anyone who thinks that hyper-diligence or accurate tithing (or the perfect font) will be good enough to cancel out a lack of concern for justice or a lack of affection for God. What Jesus is after is a transformed heart rather than what I call selective obedience. Selective obedience strives hard at what I want to do well at for God. But a transformed heart is filled with a motivating concern for the things that concern God, such as my relationship with Him and the plight of the vulnerable around me.
Speaking of vulnerable, that's how I feel as I consider this. Vulnerable to being so busy with picky-little-details that I don't have time for a poor refugee family in need of assistance -- or of simple friendship -- or to have time for a meaningful relationship with the God who called me to the very work I'm so busy with. The solution is simply making sure that what I do throughout each day -- and how much time I spend at what I do -- is in fact precisely what God actually calls me to do. And I know that will always include time spent with the God I love and time spent expressing that love to others.
© 2009 by Ken Peters
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