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   Justice and Mercy and Faithfulness(1) - Justice and Mercy and Faithfulness (1)    
   Rev. Jaerock Lee
   Matthew 23:23


[Matthew 23:23]
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."


This year, there has been an exceptional amount of rainfall.
Many farmers who run orchards worry about the harvest.
Fortunately, the fruits have ripened, and we have the Chuseok holidays.
It's because our God has given us the sunshine.
God the Father is full of mercy and compassion.
He also loves humanity so much.
You believers here also love this God and you try to repay Him for His love.
But do you clearly know what God wants the most from you?
In this message, let me talk to you about how to be truly faithful in dutifully showing respect to God the Father.
To let you know in advance, it is to cultivate justice, mercy, and faithfulness
Easily put, it is to cultivate a truthful heart.
Isn't it easy for us that He just wants a truthful heart more than anything else?
You can learn the secret today and give joy to God.
I hope you will spend prosperous Chuseok holidays in the blessings that God has given as a response to your deeds.


Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Many of you may be going back to your hometowns, and before I explain about the reading passage, let me tell you a story about a family.
There was a mother who had become 60 years old.
The children gathered after not having gathered as a family for a while.
This 60th birthday party was special.
The mother lost her husband at a young age, but had wonderfully raised all her children despite having gone through many hardships.
And her children threw this special 60th birthday party for her.
Each child gave her a gift, which was what they considered the most precious.
One gave her a lot of cash, another big gold necklace and ring, a ticket for a travel abroad, and some health food, too.
But the mother just quietly looked at all these gifts.
Then, she picked up a piece of chicken from the chicken stew on the table.
This was the food cooked by the last son and his wife, whose financial conditions were the worst.

All the children were surprised.
That gift looked the least wonderful because the mother usually didn't enjoy eating chicken.
But the truth of the matter was a little different.
She loved chicken very much!
Previously, in order to let her children eat more chicken she had told them a white lie saying that she would get a rash if she ate chicken.
The son prepared the chicken stew thinking, "Mother, I know your heart. Please enjoy eating as much as you want of the dish you like."
The mother accepted this son's heart more gladly than any other gift.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It's just a story from the world, but we can get a very important spiritual lesson from it.
Rather than just the outward action of making our offering, our Father God also wants our heart contained in them.
Namely, God rejoices over our willingness to understand His heart and serve Him.
In Mark 12:30, we can see such a heart of God.
Jesus said, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength."
Jesus said that this command is the greatest among all commandments.
But some people seem to keep all the commandments, but do not keep this greatest command of all.
The rich young man portrayed in Mark chapter 10 is such a case.
This young man came to Jesus and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answered that he had to keep all the commandments.
Then the young man said, "Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth."
We can see how strictly he kept the Law for he was able to boldly say so before Jesus.
Jesus also felt love for him and said, "Go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."
So, did the young man say 'Amen' and follow Jesus?
Mark 10:22 says, "But at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property."
The young man thought he loved God because he kept all the commandments.
But when Jesus ordered complete devotion to Him, he was saddened and went away grieving.
It is very different from Peter and other disciples, who immediately obeyed Jesus' word to follow Him.
The disciples forsook their boats and nets which were their means of making a living. They even left their families to follow Jesus.
So, what was the problem with this young man?
He lived a godly life on the outside, but in his heart, he loved himself more than he loved God.
He eventually missed the glory of becoming a disciple of Jesus.
How is it with you?
Those who always attend the worship services, prayer meetings, and other meetings and meditate on the word of God might think that they are living by the word of God.
If they know the word of God very well and are in positions to teach the members, they are more likely to think this way.
But some of these people do not have the love for the Lord deep in their hearts.
Listening to this message, I hope you will measure your heart relying on the voice of the Holy Spirit coming from the depths of your hearts and not just by your outward deeds.
I hope you can discern whether you really keep the word of God with true love for God.
In doing so, I pray in the name of the Lord that you will keep the commands of God with your love for God from this moment on.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
At the time of Jesus the religious leaders of the Jews kept the Law very strictly.
But they were rebuked and warned by Jesus.
In today's reading passage Matthew 23:23, Jesus sternly warned saying, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others."
The scribes and Pharisees kept not just the Law but also the traditions of the elders very strictly.
They studied the Law and taught the people, too.
They kept the law so strictly that in case of tithes, they counted even the leaves and stems of little vegetables.
God commanded of them the tithes of only the main harvest. That being namely the grains, fruits, wines, and oil.
The mint, dill, and cumin in the reading passage did not belong to any of those categories.
Also, they boasted that they were keeping the commandments of God very well.
They studied the law to keep it literally, but they forsook the justice, mercy, and faithfulness, which were the fundamental spirit of the law.
Jesus openly pointed out their greed, dissipation, and lawlessness hidden in their hypocrisy and rebuked them for it.
He compared them with a 'brood of vipers' or 'whitewashed tombs'.
He also rebuked them saying, "[they] come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves."
He called for repentance.
But many of them eventually participated in killing Jesus.
They did not repent but stood against Jesus, thereby going the way of destruction.
They prayed to God and strictly kept the law, but they were not saved.
They knew the law very well, but they did not understand the heart of God in giving them the law.
Now, what are the justice, mercy, and faithfulness, which Jesus said were more important than the deeds of keeping the law?
Here, justice is to follow the thing that is right.
In this world, there are standards to discern between the right act and wrong act, such as morals or social standard.
Some people always choose the side that is right according to these standards.
They don't harm their neighbors, and they don't do anything shameful at all.
Of course, children of God will choose the right way according to the law of God and the standards of justice.
It's because sometimes the standards of the world are not in agreement with those of God.
The Pharisees and scribes were very righteous on the outside, according to the standards of the law.
In their deeds, they kept the commands of God very strictly.
But inside, they always thought about how they could receive recognition and respect from the people.
They were hypocritical because they only tried to appear righteous before men.
Namely, their hearts were filled with unrighteousness.
About this, Jesus said the following in Mathew 23:5-7.
"But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries [filǽktəri] and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men."
The "Phylacteries" refer to two small leather boxes worn by Jewish men containing parchment scrolls with scripture written on them.
The Pharisees made larger phylacteries and carried them with them to show off their godliness.
More simply put, they carried 'bigger Bibles' than other people.
Also, when they were fasting, they contorted their faces to let other people know.
On the outside, they seemed to be meditating on the word of God, praying, and fasting.
But, in their hearts they didn't have righteousness which is the willingness to follow the right thing.
How is it with you believers here?
Your actions are to keep the law before God, aren't they?
Even so, I urge you to check whether you are keeping the word to appear righteous in the sight of men without realizing it yourself.
For example, in the church you are always mild and gentle to the believers, but you get angry at home.
You take the lead in doing voluntary works in the church, but you don't clean your house very well.
You listen to the messages on goodness, love, fruits of the Holy Spirit, and even make summaries of them, but you do not practice them in your actual lives.
You break peace and seek your own benefits.
But you like being recognized by others saying, "She has great faith."
This is not true justice.
Those who practice righteousness before God will have the same deeds regardless of the situations or circumstances.
Whether others see you or not, whether you are in a high position or not, or whether it is beneficial or harmful for you at the moment, you just follow what is right according to the word.
It's because you are always conscious of God, and not men.
Brothers and sisters,
We sometimes get a lesson from the three tests in 1998 and 99.
At that time, the ones who left God were those who adorned only their outward appearances to be recognized by people.
And how is it now as many church members stand on the rock of faith and have gone into spirit?
As God's true children and spiritual workers, you keep the word of God to be recognized by God and not by men.
You live by the word of God because you love living in goodness and resembling God.
I hope you will cultivate justice in your heart and live a truly righteous life.
Brothers and sisters, next, mercy refers to love and generosity.
You can keep the law in a way that is pleasing to God only when you have love and generosity in your heart.
First, you must have love for God.
For example, when you give tithes and other offerings, you can only give them with a sense of duty if you do not love God. Giving tithes will only become a burden to you.
Or, it can only become hypocrisy for you, as the Pharisees thought they were giving tithes and they were confident.
True tithe will be given only when you give it with true love from your heart while giving thanks to God for giving you income.
This is how you can keep the law truly.
Jesus lamented that the Pharisees and the scribes did not have such a love.
In order to keep the law completely, you must also have love for the neighbors as well as for God.
In John chapter 8, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman before Jesus accusing her.
John 8:4-5 says, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?"
It was a right thing to stone her according to the law of the Old Testament.
But in their hearts there was only the cunningness to test Jesus and receive the condemnation that condemned her.
They did not have any trace of mercy or compassion of God towards sinners.
So, if you keep the law with this kind of heart, would God be pleased with you?
When the believers with weak faith commit sins in your mission groups or parishes, what kind of attitudes do you have towards them?
I don't believe that you would complain saying, "Why do they commit sins and give a hard time to our mission group and parish? I hope they will go to another parish."
I believe you wanted them to repent and turn away from the sin and go to New Jerusalem together.
God wants to save just one more soul.
If you have any trace of this love of God, you would have mercy on those souls, too.
James 2:13 says, "Mercy triumphs over judgment."
According to the law, sinners must be put to death.
But our God forgave us of our sins by sacrificing His one and only Son Jesus.
He showed to us love that goes beyond justice.
If we completely cultivate mercy in our hearts, we will keep the law of God, and we will only show goodness to our neighbors.
It's because we love our neighbors.
If you think like, "I am a relatively good worker with good faith living by the word of God," then I want you to think about yourself once again.
Do you really love your neighbors?
In Luke chapter 10, we find the parable that Jesus gave talking about true neighbors.
A man was robbed and he was thrown out on the road almost dead.
Some priests and Levites saw him, but they just avoided him, not to mention helping him.
But a Samaritan had pity on him and took care of him with his own money and time.
Jesus asked which one of these people was a true neighbor of the man who was robbed.
The priests and Levites knew the commandments very well.
But Samaritans were considered to be sinners and the Jews did not even talk to them, for their blood was mixed with the Gentiles.
But in the sight of God, who would God think kept the law and was the true neighbor of the man who was robbed? Obviously it is the Samaritan.
I hope all of you will fill love in your heart just like this good Samaritan.
I pray in the name of the Lord that when you keep the commandments, your love will be delivered to God and to your neighbors.