In Matthew 23, Yeshua made it very clear that matters of the heart, rather than outward trappings, are what the Father is most interested in when it comes to people. To those who tended to focus upon the outward appearance of things, He said:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23: 23-24)
Looking at it from a Hebrew point of view, the term “weightier matters” might better be rendered as “more glorious matters” (the Hebrew word כבוד kavod “glory” stems from the idea of something that is “weighty”). These weightier matters are things that can only be perceived by and then executed by the heart. Unfortunately though, people tend to put a premium on appearances because we are inclined to think in temporal terms, not in eternal value. We are inclined to focus on what things look like even though we know by experience that looks can be deceiving.
Personally, I believe that when we focus too much on outward appearances, it is often tied to our need to be right, as opposed to doing what is right. In other words, if we insist on emphasizing what things look like on the outside, it suggests that we are more into religion than relationship. This mindset opposes what the Messiah said: what’s on the inside matters more because, good or bad, what is on the inside will eventually come to the surface. That’s why Messiah said that we should recognize people by their fruit and not their leaves. Sometimes leaves conceal the fact that there is no fruit at all (Matthew 21:19). If there is fruit, a careful inspection will reveal what kind of seed, good or bad, is planted in their heart.
If you take a grape and squeeze it, whatever is on the inside will come out. God has a way of orchestrating events and circumstances that squeeze us, forcing what’s in our heart to be manifest for all to see. Mind you, God’s people should present themselves, outwardly, as a holy and righteous people, but those outward signs should faithfully reflect what’s in their heart. Messiah never discouraged tithing mint, cumin and anise; He just encouraged us that, as we do the outward things, don’t forget about the more important inward things.
So we must be careful to follow the admonition of the Messiah who instructed us to clean the inside of the cup first, rather than starting with the outside of the cup. When we place the proper attention to what the inside of the cup looks like, rather than having to be right, we will do what is right. When we do what is right, it is indication that the outside of the cup has become clean, as well. In short, we should develop a relationship with Him rather than getting wrapped up in religion.