Modernistic ministers who only emphasize the
positive aspects of Jesus Christ, avoid Matthew 23 like the plague. Matthew
23 records one of Jesus’ most scathing rebukes of His earthly ministry.
It was directed at the religious leaders of His day. Jesus called the Pharisees
what they were– Hypocrites! They put on an outward show of religion, but
really have no inward heart for God.
The Pharisees were very meticulous in matters of
tithing, but careless and loose when it came to the weightier matters of
the heart (v. 23).
Paying tithes was their duty. Christ tells them
they ought not to leave it un-done. Withholding tithes is called robbing
God (Mal. 2:8–10). Paul said that they that are taught in the word should
make financial remuneration to the one who is providing the teaching (Gal.
6:6). Not to do so is to cheapen the work of God and do less than any hypocritical
The Pharisee boasted, "I give tithes of all that
I possess" (Luke 18:12). This included his agricultural produce. Leviticus
27:30 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."
Jesus mentioned how precise the Pharisees were in their tithing (v. 23).
"Mint" is a spice that grows in Palestine. "Anise" was a kind of dill.
It grew both wild and cultivated. The seeds of "cummin" is another seasoning
spice. These were the most trivial and insignificant products of the earth.
The Pharisees would be careful to tithe of these minor items, yet completely
overlook the most important things.
All the things of God’s Word are weighty, but some
things are MORE WEIGHTY! Some things are more important than other things.
The Pharisees were partial in the law (Mal 2:9). They
would pick and choose what parts of the law they liked and rejected the
rest. They observed the smaller duties and omitted the greater. Payment
of the tithe does not exempt a person from the other more important spiritual
Outward form is not as important as inward character.
What you do is not as important as what you are.
What you believe is not as important as in whom you have believed!
Jesus was not condemning tithing. He was rebuking
the Pharisee's omission of the weightier matters of the law– judgment,
mercy, and faith. Most of our sins are SINS OF OMISSION– leaving things
undone that should be done (James. 4:17).
How often do we excuse our disobedience in one thing
by commending our-selves on some lesser important things we did do.
Anybody can tithe, including unsaved people! Yet
tithing is not particularly expressive on the real condition of the heart.
The true condition of the heart is re-vealed in JUDGMENT, MERCY and FAITH.
These are the weightier matters that the Lord REQUIRES. Micah 6:8 says,
"He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require
of thee, but to do justly [judgment], and to love mercy [mercy], and to
walk humbly with thy God [faith]?"
To excuse yourself from giving to missions because you tithe won't cut
it with God. This you ought to have done and not leave the other undone.
To excuse yourself from soul winning because you pray for the lost is spiri-tual
manslaughter. This you ought to have done and not leave the other undone.
To excuse yourself from attending church on Sunday night because you al-ready
went to church on Sunday morning is outright neglect of God’s house. This
you ought to have done and not leave the other undone.
To excuse yourself from personal Bible study because you attended a Bible
study at church is disrespect for the Word of God. This you ought to have
done and not leave the other undone.
I. JUDGMENT (INWARD– directed towards SELF).
A. Judgment in determining self-examination (1 Cor.
11:28-32; 2 Cor. 13:5)
Judgment denotes arriving at a decision; exercising discernment.
Jesus said, "Judge righteous judgment." Judgment is important because
it brings one under the responsibility of weighing things out and doing
the right things about every situation. This involves personal integrity,
which the Pharisees lacked.
B. Judgment in discerning right and wrong (1 Kings
3:9-11 cf. Heb. 5:14)
II. MERCY (OUTWARD– directed towards OTHERS). Once we
have judged ourselves, we are in a position to show mercy.
A. Mercy towards the lost (Luke 10:30-37)
Mercy is benevolence and compassion extended to one who is afflicted, joined
with a desire to help them.
B. Mercy towards the saved (Col. 3:12-13)
III. FAITH (UPWARD– directed towards GOD).
Without faith it is impossible to please God. It doesn’t take much faith
to tithe. Religion without faith is a Godless religion. The Pharisees were
tithing, but not doing it in faith. They were doing it for outward show.
CONCLUSION: The parable of the Pharisee and the publican
(Luke 18:9-14), is an excellent illustration of Matthew 23:23.
Notice this particular Pharisee was a tither of all he possessed.
But he omitted the weightier matters of God’s Word:
1. Omitting JUDGMENT– He failed to judge his own sin while
condemning the publican.
2. Omitting MERCY– He "despised others." He failed to
be merciful concerning the publican and he failed to recognize his own
need of mercy.
3. Omitting FAITH– He was one of those who "trusted in
themselves... and prayed thus WITH HIMSELF!"
Those who trust in themselves are faithless toward
God. He who is faithless is in his own eyes self-sufficient. Such a person
does not need God. He wants his own religion his own way and doesn't want
God to interfere with it. Such were the scribes and the Pharisees, and
such is the religion of some today who want re-ligion, but they want it
on their own terms. They want to do it their own way. They want to be selective
and observe what they want to observe and leave off what they don't like.
The Word of God is not their standard.
Sermon by Pastor Al Hughes,
Port Orchard WA