When my husband and I have household rules, we do not create them in order to catch our kiddos doing something wrong; we make rules in so we can have peace in our home. We have rules so everyone can live in a courteous environment. We also have rules that are strictly for safety. The heart behind the rules is so we can love and respect each other; however, sometimes when our kids are nit-picking at each other, the rules are used to finger point. As a parent, that is so frustrating! But for a moment, let's consider God's heart behind all the commands we have been given in the Bible. Do you think He gets just as frustrated with us when they are used in a legalistic way to catch someone doing something wrong rather than to catch the mercy and love behind the rules? Jesus speaks against this type of legalism in Matthew 12:1-14.
In these verses, Jesus is being questioned about His and His disciple's behavior on the Sabbath. God had given exact commands as to how much work was acceptable on the Sabbath and instead of it becoming a blessing and a day of rest for people, it became another set of laws that the Pharisees used to burden people. God's heart behind this command was lost on the Pharisees and they watched the people carefully to make sure they were following the command. Unfortunately, their watchful eyes and finger-pointing was probably more tiring than the work the condemned.
In these verses, we see that Jesus tried to redirect the Pharisees back to the heart of the law rather than the fine details of the law. The disciples were being singled out for picking a few heads of grain to satisfy their hunger. The Pharisees blew it out of proportion and used the word "harvesting" to point out their sin. Jesus used David to point out that he broke the law by going into the Temple to eat the sacred bread that only the priests were allowed to eat because He and his companions were hungry. Jesus reminded the Pharisees that mercy was far more important to God's heart. Jesus then healed a man in the synagogue as an act of mercy to show once again that the mercy behind the healing was more important than the discussion of whether or not the law was broken.
These verses make me think about how I can lose sight of God's heart and worry more about other people's behavior. When do I forget mercy and consider the rules more important? When am I forgetting to consider a person's intent behind their actions? Hosea 6:6 (KJV) says, "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
What is more important to God's heart?
This post is linked with Monday Musings and Sharing His Beauty.