Straining At A Gnat While Swallowing A Camel
The context: Jesus had just healed a man, and it just happened to be on a Sabbath. The Pharisees (the religious leaders) called the man who was healed and questioned him harshly because it was done on a Sabbath. The healed man simply told them what had happened, that he was born blind and that Jesus healed him, adding that from the beginning of the world no one has been able to heal a man born blind. But the Pharisees rejected Jesus based on the fact that he had defiled the law by doing a work on the Sabbath! "Therefore some of the Pharisees said, 'This man is not from God, because he does not keep the Sabbath.'” John 9:16 When I was in Israel, I noticed that they still define the level of a person's righteousness based on whether or not he/she keeps the Sabbath. When speaking of someone they'll say, "oh he's a good man, he keeps the Sabbath," or they'll reject him saying, "he smokes on the Sabbath," or "he drives a car on the Sabbath." To them, it's ALL about the Sabbath - to this day. That's what religion does. It judges persons by the rules they keep or the rules they don't keep. How often have you heard someone speaking of a believer saying, "and he's supposed to be a Christian!" ...based on some way in which he or she did not conform to their idea of what a Christian "should" or should not be. Whether one is a follower of Jesus Christ or not depends on one thing, and one thing ONLY, and that is whether or he/she has been born again by the Spirit of God. You don't have to teach a born-again person what the rules are, they have the laws written upon their hearts. They might fall, they might fail, and all do. But they will get back up and repent, as Peter did after denying Christ. Scripture says that after denying Christ, he went out and wept bitterly. He didn't try to justify himself. He made no excuse. That he denied Christ loomed so terrible in his heart that he sobbed in despair. Sorrow will be the reaction of any born-again person when they realize they have sinned. Religionists are hypocrites. They want you to submit to THEIR laws, not the precepts of the Word of God. When I was a child, I remember in Catholic school that were told we would go to hell if we haven't made our "Easter duties." Easter duties demanded that one go to confession and communion at least once during lent (the weeks leading up to Easter.) We also were taught that the laws of the Catholic church were equal in authority to the laws of God, and breaking them carried the same penalty as breaking any of the ten commandments: if you die without going to confession to a priest you broke a law of the church ...you go to hell. These were the rules of religionists who didn't even KNOW the Lord. Someone I knew in Israel owned a bookstore. He told me that the ultra-orthodox men would come in and go to the back to read porn magazines. They would never in their wildest dreams break the Sabbath, but porn and theft and lies and adultery were the camels in their lives that they didn't even see. "Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!" Matthew 23:24 That well describes all "religionists" of any persuasion. This is not meant to underestimate the seriousness and awfulness of sin. Sin IS serious and sin IS awful. What I am suggesting is that we are not to strain at a gnat by focusing on every little thing a believer does which we consider wrong, and swallowing a camel which will usually be the huge wrongs found in our own life. Do you lie? A religionist will call it stretching the truth - but God says lies originate in the devil himself. Do you hate? Hatred is a destroyer, both through what you say about the person you hate, and also it destroys YOU inside. Do you steal? Do you cheat? Do you eat or drink to excess? Do you curse? Do you lust? Do you bear false witness? These are all camels. A person with any camels in his life is disqualified from having the right to point to the faults in another. "Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the plank that is in your own eye?" Luke 6:42 Let us rethink the way we judge. Don't strain at a gnat in someone's life as long as you have a camel in yours.