Jesus said to them, “Watch out, and beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
– Matthew 16:6
I think there are probably a lot of unhealthy teachings out there that would pass for the yeast of the P’s and S’s. Not too long before Jesus gave this warning to the disciples he said this to the Pharisees and scribes:
You hypocrites! Isaiah prophesied rightly about you when he said: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.'”
– Matthew 15:7-9
I’m not gonna really go into what I think these “human-precepts-come-doctrines” are because that would just be me turning my ideas into doctrine and the vicious cycle would continue.
But Jesus said something else to the P’s and S’s, said it more than once even, that I feel is a pretty good gauge for measuring our “awesome” doctrines against.
Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
– Matthew 9:13
But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
– Matthew 12:7
Everyone knows what Matthew 22:36-40 says… (but just in case you don’t or you forgot, here it is)
“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
– Matthew 22:36-40
So it’s pretty obvious that love is really important to God. It’s kind of the point, I guess. So, maybe, remembering that God desires for us to show one another mercy even more than he desires a sacrifice, is important too.
Love and mercy should be our yardstick. We’re supposed to love one another.
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
– John 13:34-35
And if we need a refresher course on what love is (in case we start thinking that our horrid behavior is actually just ‘tough love’), it’s right here in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
Here’s a little ditty I wrote that I like to call “The Love Chapter“.
You can find it here too: Kachow!
My daughters and I memorized those verses together and we say them every night as a prayer at bedtime. And when they are fighting I totally hold those verses over them. (Cause that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? Lol.) Really, I just remind them what the verses say and ask them if they were being very loving towards their sister or their friends. Guess what? It works every time.
I think we all need a DAILY reminder of what love is and that God desires mercy from us. So let’s be merciful. Let’s measure our awesome doctrines against love and mercy and see if they measure up. If they don’t, they might just be yeastie beasties and not love babies.