Google+ 11/13/13 We May Swallow a Camel While We Are Looking for a Gnat!

Matthew 23:23-25

 

“What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites!

For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,

But you ignore the more important aspects of the law—justice, mercy, and faith.

You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides!

You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!

What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites!

For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—

Full of greed and self-indulgence!"

 

In part fifteen of our eighteen-part devotion series entitled, "Water, Water, Everywhere!" we turn to the apostle Matthew who is quoting Jesus.  Jesus is correcting the scribes and Pharisees.  At this time in the temple, the focus was almost entirely about money and tithing.  Jesus acknowledges that tithing is important.  This is a point that all Christians and churches should listen to carefully.  Giving money to God is never a monetary problem.  Churches and Christians who hoard their money and make a spectacle out of giving, have a spiritual problem.  As Jesus points out, there are other aspects of the law that must not be ignored like justice, mercy, and faith.  Without considering all of these aspects of the law, our churches will not survive.  Many people fail to worship every week because they believe that all the church wants is their money.  Our church wants everyone to put Jesus first in their hearts and lives.  When that happens, God will provide our daily bread.  It is this kind of obedience and faith that strengthens our resolve and has us giving to God generously and with great delight.  This is not a righteous thought on our part.  This is what God calls us to do if we are to be obedient.  The Pharisees went to great length to strain all that they drank, so as to never ingest anything unclean.  Jesus points out that they are missing the bigger picture.  He then proclaims the worst trait of all that they practice daily.  They are more concerned about the outside of their "cup" than they are about the inside.  One wonders how we Christians have gotten to such a place in our faith.  The priests of Jesus's day were actually extorting money and goods from people in the name of God.  Before we start to judge them, we should look at today's local New Testament Churches.  Unfortunately, we still have a lot of "extorting" going on.  Many churches build huge buildings which cost millions of dollars.  If you look inside these very same churches, no ministry is going on because they can't afford it.  They are strangled by debt, caused by these buildings, and they stand around and brag about how wonderful their buildings look!  We need to evaluate our Christian lives, including the New Testament Church we attend for worship.  If the "building" is empty all week, we need to look at the big picture that Jesus identifies.  Are we straining our "water" improperly?  Be careful how we live our Christian lives everyday and follow God's Word.  If we don't, "We May Swallow a Camel While We are Looking for a Gnat!"