You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. Matthew 23:24 NIV
Have you ever gone running through the backyard hollering and swallowed a gnat? Yuck! It’s gnasty business. You spend the next few minutes hacking and spitting with thoughts of the fluttering little devil stuck on the side of your throat.
The Pharisees hated gnats, too. They feared swallowing gnats would make them unclean. This fear led them to strain their water for gnats before drinking it. If you read Matthew 23:24, you see Jesus was more than a little frustrated at the Pharisees. They were experts in the law. These guys could spout laws in a box, with a mouse, in a house. They could spout them here or there. They could spout them anywhere.
The problem was that knowing them didn’t constitute living them. The Pharisees were overly concerned about appearing saintly, but not concerned enough about the state of their hearts. They did not eat gnats but swallowed camels. They didn’t want to be holy, they just wanted to look the part.
I love sporty clothes. I’m drawn to the matching hot pink and black running shirts and pants at Target. I can imagine myself in them. I plan the earrings – small diamond studs, nothing dangly. The hair – sleek ponytail, not too high. The shoes – Nike Plus Pegasus, the ones that connect with my I-pod. But it’s really not me. I do run on occasion, but sporty is just not my style. Ask my friends, I’m more likely to be seen in sequins than spandex. But it’s fun to dress the part from time to time.
The Pharisees were the same. They walked the streets wearing sweatbands and sneakers having no plans of ever running the race.
How often could this describe my Christian walk? I’m afraid to tell you. Sometimes I don’t live like a Christian, I just play one on TV. I can spend my time teaching Sunday school, volunteering at the food bank, and singing in the choir. But when I walk past the lady who drops her bag of groceries or tailgate a car so no one can squeeze in front of me in traffic, it reflects the attitude of my heart. I’ve just swallowed a camel. Ouch.
How about you? Do want your name engraved in gold on the front of your Bible or do you want His Word engraved with grace on the walls of your heart?
Lord, let me be pleasing to you on the inside and the out. Let my thoughts and actions reflect a heart that is filled with You. Help me to be aware of those around me who are watching me for signs of You. Forgive me when I worry too much about the gnats and not enough about the camels. May my mouth be small and my heart be big. Amen.