You . . . have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. Matthew 23:23
In colonial North America, William Penn had a reputation as a benevolent Quaker who dealt fairly with Native Americans. When he returned to England, his sons stayed behind. They did not share his integrity. Soon they contrived a scheme to cheat a Delaware tribe. The sons produced an old contract in which the Indians had agreed to sell a portion of land that a man could walk in 1 days.
When the tribe consented to honor their ancestors agreement, Penns sons were delighted. They hired three of the fastest runners they could find. One of the men covered a distance of 65 miles in 18 hours. They totally disregarded both the letter and the spirit of the agreement.
In Jesus day, the scribes and Pharisees rationalized their violation of the spirit of Gods law. Jesus exposed their hypocritical practice when He cited the commandment to "honor your father and your mother" (Mark 7:10-13). They were declaring a portion of their income as "a gift to God" to keep from using it to care for their aged parents.
The Bible is not a tool to get what we want. Instead, we must ask God to help us understand its intended purpose. Lets be sure we dont neglect the "weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith" (Matt. 23:23).
Obeying the letter of the law is good; obeying the spirit of the law is better.