Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
- Matthew 23:23
The verse above comes after the Parable of the Two Sons (the scripture for this Sunday), where a father asks his two sons to work in his vineyard. You'll hear it Sunday, but in Matthew 23, Jesus really lays in to the Pharisees and scribes, and I encourage you to read the whole chapter if you get a chance. He gives example after example of how the Pharisees and scribes are failing. But isn't the choice of words in verse 23 here interesting?
Mint, dill, and cumin? Sounds like a meal of mint juleps, dill pickles, and tacos to me! It seems that different translations use different spices, but the idea is that, according to Rabbinic laws, herbs such as mint and cumin had to be tithed, whereas dill did not. So this symbolizes two things: first, that the religious leaders in Jesus' time made a great show of giving what was required of them (mint and cumin) as well as that which was not required of them (dill), and second, that "what was required of them" was something that they themselves had determined! So they made up rules, followed them, and used that to appear "holy" and "righteous" be the people, yet Jesus shuts them down with example after example in this chapter.
I think we all do this in one way or another. We come up with little rules and laws for ourselves (and perhaps our family and friends) that we attribute to being holy and good, but sometimes they can be quite the opposite! I think this is more prevalent than we might realize. "We can't have guitars and drums in a worship service," or how about, "No true Christian could vote for a Democrat/Republican!" These kinds of rules we make and follow make us look and feel like good people, but they do not address justice, mercy, or faithfulness, and they are not based on God, but rather on our own opinions. What things do you do in your life to make yourself feel good and "holy" but that may actually be unjust, merciless, and faithless?