Do You Major On The Minors?
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! ...Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" Matthew 23:23, 24 God had given laws to Israel, but the religious leaders had added multitudes of laws of their own. Then they concentrated on teaching the people to practice the laws they had established, leaving the laws of God aside. When I was in Israel, it was amazing to me that the Jews judged whether a person was righteous or not on the basis of whether he kept the Sabbath. You'd oftentimes hear, "Oh he's a good man, he keeps the Sabbath." Or "Oh he's not a good person, someone saw him smoke a cigarette on the Sabbath." One Sabbath day I was out for a walk and it was raining off and on so I took my umbrella. I stopped to rest a minute, sitting in a roadside bus stop, and I noticed children in the street glaring at me. I had no idea why they were so annoyed. Later I asked someone about it, and he asked, "did you have the umbrella opened or closed?" I said, "when I sat to rest I closed it." He said, "see, you broke the Sabbath. You cannot open and close an umbrella on the Sabbath. If you had wanted to use the umbrella, you would have had to open it Friday night before the Sabbath began, and keep it opened until Saturday night when the Sabbath ended." Yet these same people, like all religious people, steal, commit adultery, and slander each other. Sometimes you'd see the orthodox peering into a porn magazine in the back of a store. They would NOT, however, even think to open an umbrella on the Sabbath. This is what is meant by the Scripture, "who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel." A gnat is a tiny bug, smaller than a fly. This they pay close attention to, yet they swallow a huge camel, not concentrating on the things that really matter. Does that surprise you? It shouldn't. Isn't it the same with us? With all human beings? We all grow up with a history which determines what is important to us based on how things have affected us. A man might think he's doing a good deed by helping an old woman carry her packages across the street. Makes him feel good. Yet the same man will steep himself in pornography, live in lust, slander those he disapproves of, and violate the law of God. But he's compassionate to the elderly, and that's how he judges himself, he judges himself according to his own standards. When something in his life contradicts the Word of God, he finds a way to justify it to himself. As long as he does a good deed here and there, he considers himself a good person. This is what Jesus called hypocrisy in the Scripture above. Straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel. Believers, the Word of God and the Word of God ALONE is God's standard. It is not for us to develop our own standards so we can feel good about what we do. Jesus would certainly help an old lady across the street, he would certainly give to charity - but you wouldn't find him in the back of a store looking at porn magazines. You wouldn't find him cheating on his taxes or lying to people. He walked in all the counsel of the Word of God. Period. Nothing added, nothing taken away. And this example is what we must follow. Let us not major on the minors, let us not scrutinize a gnat and put our focus there. No, let us turn to the Word of God and measure ourselves by that standard alone, for he alone reserves the right to define standards.