In today's sign from Matthew 23:23-24, we see the Pharisees had a problem with picking and choosing what to obey. They were giving a tithe off of the little things they owned - but neglecting those characteristics of true righteousness: exercising justice, giving mercy, and living a faithful life. Jesus had already warned the crowd in Matthew 23:3-4 that the Pharisees taught and made people carry heavy burdens when it came to the Law, but they themselves would not lift it. They chose what they wanted to follow, while demanding that everyone else follow ALL THE LAWS. And when they saw someone neglecting a law, they made sure they were "put in their place." They became like the taskmasters the Israelites had to deal with in the early days of Moses.
This is an unfortunate state, but one that many Christians can easily find themselves in. Many in Christendom today become enraged with the stories in the news (murder, lying, adultery, etc.) and cry what a wicked and cruel world it is. But, they will often ignore the words of Jesus, who told us, "If you are angry with someone you are in danger... if you think lustfully about someone, you've committed adultery with them (reference in Matthew 5:21-30)." Why is it that we often hold the unbelieving world to a higher standard than we hold ourselves? Is it because we have developed a Pharisaical mindset? Maybe that is why our witness (not the Gospel itself, but our witness of the Gospel) has become so ineffective? Maybe those who are hearing us have been watching us for longer and view us as a hypocrite? Our actions have spoken louder than our words and have made our words of null effect.
May God deliver us from the heart that picks and chooses what to obey in His Word as we embrace the exercising of justice, the giving of mercy, and living a faithful life. May we spend less time straining the gnats while ignoring the camels.