Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Matthew 23:23-24 (NKJV)
If you’ve read much of the Old Testament then you know that the tithe was pretty important to Judaism. The tithe was commanded by the Law and reminded them of their dependence on God. The tithe was used to support the priests and Levites as they served in the Temple. It was universally accepted that the tithes of the main crops must be given. These would be the things they grew large quantities of.
In most every house there would also be some small crops that they grew. They would grow a very small crop of things like dill, mint, and cumin. All of these were used for cooking and dill and cumin had some medicinal uses. When I say a small crop I mean a very small crop. To give tithes of mint, dill and cumin was to tithe maybe the fruit off of one plant. Only those that were extremely meticulous would tithe off of the plants in the house garden.
That is exactly what the Pharisees did. They were so thorough about their tithes that they tithed the tiniest part of their crop. While at the same time they could be guilty of being unjust toward others. They were often arrogant and self-righteous. They were often unloving especially toward those that they considered to be sinners. In other words they performed the actions required by the Law, but ignored the attitudes required by God.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is for us to spend a great deal of time trying to straighten out our actions while neglecting the attitudes we have? It is so easy for us to “do” all the right things but do them with a sorry attitude. It is easy for us to come to church, read our Bibles, tithe, and all the while be proud, judgmental, gripe and complain, negative and nitpicky. When we do this we forget that God cares about our attitudes as well as our actions.
In fact, when you read the Bible you find that God has just a about as much to say about our attitudes as He does about our actions. What attitudes does God say we should have?
Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:12-14 (NKJV)
Paul lists five attitudes that should characterize us as Christians. It is important for us to notice here that we are to clothe ourselves with these attitudes. There are a couple of reasons this is important. The first is that ht shows we must be active about developing these attitudes in our lives. There is a responsibility we have to work to make sure that these attitudes characterize our lives.
A second reason this is important is because it takes away the excuse of, “That’s just not the way I am.” Chances are all of us either know someone who uses this excuse to keep from having to work to have these attitudes or we are the someone who uses this excuse to keep from having to work to have these attitudes. According to the Bible that’s no excuse. Even if these attitudes are not a part of our character, we still have the responsibility of doing what it takes do clothe ourselves with these attitudes.
Tender Mercies– A part of what it means for us to be merciful is for us to genuinely care about others. It’s not an act, but we genuinely care about others and what is going on in their lives.
Kindness-We have to remember that Biblical kindness means taking the initiative to help those in need. Biblical kindness sees a need and then does what it can to meet the need. Kindness and mercy are really very similar. They are both characteristics of compassion. When you read the story of the Good Samaritan, you read about someone who was merciful and kind.
Humility– Humility is to not think more highly of ourselves that we ought to. At the same time humility is not about being self-depreciating. Humility is about honestly recognizing our strengths and our weaknesses. A humble person can put others ahead of themselves.
Meekness– This is an attitude of submission toward God and consideration toward others. Although weakness and meekness may look similar, they are not the same. Weakness is due to negative circumstances, such as lack of strength or lack of courage. But meekness is due to a person’s conscious choice. It is a willingness to give up our rights for the sake of another.
Longsuffering-This word literally means to have a long temper. The short-tempered person speaks, and acts impulsively and lacks self-control. The patient person on the other hand does not speak or act impulsively and has self-control. They are able to put up with those who irate them without acting ugly.
Love-Paul says that above all these other things, put on love. If we genuinely love others, we will be tender and merciful toward them. If we genuinely love others we will be kind to them. If we genuinely love others we will act in humility toward them. If we genuinely love others, we will be meek toward them. If we genuinely love others, we will be longsuffering with them.
We are also told to make allowance for one another. This really is an attitude as well and it’s sorta connected to longsuffering. It is a fact that at one point or another people will get on our nerves. This will be true of those in the church and those out of the church. When groups of imperfect people get together, at some point they will get on each other’s nerves. Paul knew this and that is why he said we must make allowances for one another.
Have you ever notice that most of us can make allowances for our children and ourselves but not for others. For instance, my children don’t feel well, while your children don’t know how to behave. My children are tired, while your children are disrespectful. I don’t feel like talking, but you are rude. To make allowance for others is to give them the same benefit of the doubt we want others to give us.
Again, think about in Psalm 101 where David said, “I will lead a life of integrity in my own home.” What impact do you think it has on our kids when they see us be so meticulous to make sure we do all the right actions and completely ignore trying to develop the right attitudes? I heard someone say once that if you wanted to know what your attitude was like, look at your kids. Many times the attitudes of our children are only mirror reflections of our attitudes.
After looking at this list here is one thing we all know. It’s much easier to get our actions right than it is to get our attitudes right. But if we are going to be men and women of integrity then we must work on our attitudes as well as our actions. Chances are we would all say we value these godly attitudes, but do our attitudes reflect this value? To be men and women of integrity we must care as much about our attitudes as we do about our actions.