This morning, this phrase was part of my devotions, “You strain out a gnat, but swallow a camel.” I love that. Do you know who said it? Jesus. Let me give you a little context. Jesus was speaking to the crowds and was specifically talking about the religious leaders of the day, the Pharisees and the teachers of the law. He talked about their hypocrisy and pride and how they do everything so that others can see them. He talked about how they constantly burdened the people with heavy loads and made it harder for others to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He specifically called them blind guides.
Consider Matthew 23:23-24, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
Isn’t that great! Jesus is chastising these leaders for being more interested in the kinds of things that show on the outside than on what is really happening on the inside. He goes on to liken them to whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside, but are rotten inside.
But while this is directed at the religious leaders of the day, it also is a challenge for us to consider ourselves. What about us? Are we more concerned with how we appear to those around us than on what is really happening inside? Are we more concerned with looking perfect than we are with having a right relationship with the Lord? I love the way that Jesus is able to cut right to the core of who we are and get us to take a hard look at ourselves. That is what light does. It shines into the dark recesses of the soul and makes us aware of the things within us that need to change.
But sometimes in order for us to change, we need to be willing to allow our beautiful facade to be stripped away. We need to be willing to allow others to see the rotten garbage underneath as we start to really deal with the garbage in our lives and start focusing on the camels in our lives instead of the gnats.
I don’t know about you, but I want to stop swallowing camels. I want to let Christ have His way in my life and help me to deal with the garbage on the inside, even if it means that others might see that I am not perfect.
Another verse that I was reading in my devotions today came from Matthew 21:44, “He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” Here Jesus was talking about Himself and our need to be broken before Him. Coming to Him, in humility and brokenness, admitting our sin and our need for a Savior. We need to be willing to be broken before the Lord. And I know that is not easy. We don’t like to be broken. We want to pretend that we are perfect. But you know what? We aren’t. This world is full of a bunch of broken people walking around trying to hide their problems. We are constantly focusing on straining out gnats, so that people think we are perfect, when all the while we are swallowing camels.
My challenge for all of us today is to stop it! Stop straining out gnats and swallowing camels. Stop pretending to be perfect while we are struggling inside. Stop hiding the sin, pain, doubt and whatever else we are struggling with and deal with it. Be willing to be broken on the Rock of Jesus Christ!