Straining at Gnats, Swallowing Camels.

September 27, 2007

Thank God for those who see aspects of my heart that no one else does (the razor edges & cold, loveless parts). They keep me real. I can’t fool them, & that is something to be truly, sincerely thankful for. Thank God He doesn’t allow me to continue in my self-deception.

Praise God for the times of “ouch”, when the Sword pops the hot-air balloon & sends it crashing down . . .

“Woe to you, scribes & Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint & dill & cumin, & have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice & mercy & faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat & swallowing a camel! Woe to you, scribes & Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup & plate, but inside they are full of greed & self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup & the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes & Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones & all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy & lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:23-28 – note: Could anything be more terrifying than hearing God the Son say, “Woe to you“?)

They strained at gnats.
But they swallowed camels.

They obeyed the letter of the law.
But they disregarded the heart of the law, the matters of the heart – justice, mercy, faithfulness, love.

My tendency is to strain at the gnats, gather my many gnats, & say, “Look! Look at all the gnats I have strained out!”, not realizing that I’ve so consumed myself with the small gnats that I’ve allowed camels to pass through.

When I realize this (& sadly, the realizations are not as often as the occurrences), my next tendency is to think, “What am I doing?! Forget the gnats! Tackle the camels!”

But His point wasn’t to say, “Forget the gnats completely, because they’re not important.” Rather, He says, “These [justice, mercy, faithfulness] you should have done without neglecting the others.What others? The “gnats”. So, mind the gnats? The answer is yes.

But don’t forget the camels! In fact, of first importance, mind the camels. Don’t let the camels of lovelessness, mercilessness, & ruthlessness go by unchecked. These are essential matters of the heart; & our God looks at the heart.

“But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. & one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ & He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart & with all your soul & with all your mind. This is the great & first commandment. & a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law & Prophets.'” (Matthew 22:34-40)

Love? Gnats I can perhaps strain out by my own might, but camels? To rid my heart of lovelessness & to love as He loves? I’m done for. Unable. Ruined.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law . . . If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-23, 25)

“Walk by the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16) & “walk in love” as “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).

God help me. I can’t do it on my own. I’ve prayed this prayer many times before, but I find myself returning to it again & again: Oh, keep me from the heart that would strain at a gnat & swallow a camel!


4 Responses to “Straining at Gnats, Swallowing Camels.”

  1. pastorpatrick Says:

    Hello Tia! I think we are all guilty of this at times. We do our best to be above reproach… Don’t watch that movie! Stop wasting time! Eat your vegetables! …but forget sometimes that we do it for God’s glory and pleasure and not just our own sense of accomplishment. Thanks for the post! ~P

  2. killingsin Says:

    Hola Auntie!

  3. tia Says:

    HAHA, “auntie” tiene un accento sobre la “i” . . . “tia” no la tiene!

  4. Shirley Says:

    Hi. What an important post this is. Thank you for the beautiful reminder of the attitude we should strive to possess.

    Wish you every blessing,

    Shirley Buxton

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