Straining Gnats and Swallowing Camels

December 8, 2009 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

In Matthew 22, the various religious sects of his day begin trying to trap him by engaging him in the various religious debates of their day.  He very shrewdly answers all of their challenges and then ultimately shuts them up with focusing the conversation on what we now call The Great Commandments–love God and love others. He also shows their ignorance of the theology of who Messiah is/will be.

Then in Matthew 23, he begins teaching the disciples and the crowds and goes off on teachers of the law and Pharisees, exposing their hypocrisy.  They have devotion but do they have a heart for God and people?

Then Jesus says something that I love.  Those of you who know me, know that I love vivid imagery and great illustrations.  I may not be able to create them, but I admire them. “You strain out a gnat but you swallow a camel (Matt 23:24).” So you are walking along trying to keep something nasty from getting in your mouth and accidentally swallowing it.  You keep the gnats out, but you accidentally swallow a camel.  The Pharisees remember to tithe their herb garden, but neglect justice, mercy and faithfulness. They are proud of their attention to detail in one area of their lives but neglect the more important issues.

What about you? Do you stress and emphasize the minor points of your doctrine and neglect the more important? Are you more concerned about the debates that go on between churches or a hurting world that needs the message of Jesus Christ?  Is how you worship more important than the God that you worship? Is your life characterized by religious devotion or justice, mercy and faithfulness?


One Response to “Straining Gnats and Swallowing Camels”
  1. Ed O'Leary says:

    Another way of making your last point is to remind ourselves that we are always “demanding” justice when we should be asking for mercy. We have the facility to view our own worlds through the wrong end of the telescope. No wonder our views are so small.

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