30 July 2012

tithing cumin

Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. (Luke 18:10-14)

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. (Matthew 23:23)
cumin seeds
{image credit: cumin seeds by Bill Hails}
Do you tithe cumin? Sometimes I do.

Sometimes I obsess over small acts of righteousness--which, done with such a pompous attitude, are no longer righteous. All to the neglect of justice and mercy and faithfulness. 

Example. Recently I was writing an email to a friend, in order to say that I could not do something which she had asked me to consider. Instead of making this straightforward statement as you might expect, I spent fifteen minutes wondering if I should write "I thought about it and decided that it won't fit my schedule" or "I talked to Jared about it and we decided it won't fit into my schedule."

Why such agonizing over a turn of phrase, Rebekah? This is embarrassing, but . . . I wanted to sound like an awesome wife. Truth be told, I really had mentioned it to Jared. But now I wanted to slyly drop that (rather irrelevant) piece of information into the email, thinking that perhaps it would give me Submissive Wife Points.

(The ridiculousness of this makes laugh even now. Explaining that I asked my husband makes me sound holier? And I need to earn points? Oh dear. . .)

In the end I told my friend that I had thought and decided, without dragging in my consultation with the hubster. Thankfully, I'd realized what I was doing: not only boasting, but boasting in something that isn't particularly praiseworthy in the first place--it's not as if the Bible commands women to consult their husbands on every aspect of their schedule.

I just thought it would sound good. 

In other words, I had gotten hung up on my reputation as a wife and decided that this was an opportune moment to "tithe cumin." Oh, reputation. How stupid it makes us. Meanwhile, I shut my eyes every day to opportunities for real love. 

May I devote myself to mercy and justice rather than to self.

God, be merciful to me, a sinner.

P.S. #1 Would you consider sponsoring a child through Covenant Mercies? They need you. We are so rich here. For us, sponsoring Simon and Tigist has been a tiny way to turn away from ourselves, and towards love that pleases the Lord . . . perhaps it can be the same for you.

P.S. #2 I don't mean that the mere phrase "let me ask my husband about it" is Pharasaical self-advertising. Hey, I say it all the time--if you seriously need to ask him, say so! But in my particular story, I was only going to include that piece of information because I thought it would make me sound better. That's where the problem lay. :)

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