Jesus delivered a series of "woe's" to those in attendance at the luncheon. "Woe" is a word of denunciation and similar to our saying, "You should be ashamed of yourself". Jesus pointed out several things about which the men should be ashamed. First, they were diligent about tithing but they did it without justice or mercy. Love was not their motivation.
In the next woe, He revealed their motivation. Their love was for the chief seats in the synagogues and the respectful greetings they received in the market places. These religious leaders did not simply enjoy the chief seats and the respectful greetings. The word Jesus used for their affection was
The question of motivation is one that must be answered. For the Pharisees, the answer was nothing more than self-serving pride. They loved what right living bought them, not the God they supposedly served.
Theirs was an easy mistake to make. When we are "raised in the church", involved in "church work" most of our lives, it is easy for right living to become a matter of rote. Instead of works that are motivated by a heart filled with love for God, our good choices can become simply habit.
When that happens, it is a very small step to enjoying the benefits of right living more than the relationship that should motivate it. Rules are often easier than relationships, especially if maintaining the relationship requires change in us, and our relationship with God always requires us to change.
We must be constantly on guard against the Pharisaical error of misplaced agapaō. Our love must be focused on God and not the blessings He gives. For today, let's spend a few minutes evaluating our own hearts. Are we more focused on rules than on relationship? On what or whom do we lavish our agapaō? Let's be sure our love is for the One who loved us first.
We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19 NASB