Gnats And Camels :: by Grant Phillips

“Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24)

“You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matthew 23:24 NASB)

Jesus said these words to the scribes and Pharisees. When drinking wine or water they would use a cloth to strain out a gnat that may have somehow gotten into their drink. On the other hand, when it came to their spiritual lives, Jesus said they would swallow a camel. What did He mean by this? He was simply saying that they would go to great lengths to keep impurities from entering their bodies, but offered no resistance to spiritual impurities that entered their souls.

What can this statement that Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees say to us today?

First of all, let us realize that He was speaking to religious leaders, but not leaders who were of God. Simply put in our language of today, they were not Christians. However, this doesn’t just apply to religious leaders of today that are without Christ, but to all, leaders or not, who are without Christ but act sanctimoniously.

This reminds me of a television sitcom that ran from 1993 to 2004 called “Frasier.” Sex was free and easy within the Frasier household and among his acquaintances. He refused to tell a lie because it was not within his code of honor, but he would shack up with just about any female who wore a skirt. The same was true of his dad Martin who lived with him and his co-worker Roz, and well, everybody else. Now that is a good example of “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.”

Society talks constantly about love and equates it with sex, but hates those who say sex should be limited to the marriage bed between a husband and his wife (man and woman).

In the same breath, homosexuality is promoted as love between two of the same sex, but totally ignores what God has to say about the subject. It is a sin, period.

Politicians pass “hate” laws, but ignore true justice for all. For that matter, Congress is exempt from many of the laws the members pass, for example; discrimination laws.

Many so-called leaders of the church convince their members they are servants of Christ, but in actuality they are nothing but charlatans out for a quick buck.

With a smile we speak to another, and later that sharp blade from our mouth is driven deep into that same person’s back.

Some proclaim, “help the unfortunate,” but drive by their house in limousines while they die in their beds.

We preach fairness to all, but are dishonest in our businesses. We steal from our employers with the excuse, “they won’t miss it.”

Much of our time is spent in helping the youth in our community, but we neglect our own children.

Some go to nursing homes to bring comfort to the elderly, but ignore their own parents who raised them.

The court sentences a man for murdering another man, but upholds the murder of babies in their mother’s wombs. Empathy is applied to a mass murderer, defending them at the cost of thousands from tax payers, but little to no regard is offered the


We make a promise at the altar saying, “’til death do us part,” but at the first excuse, visit an attorney to end it with divorce.

How much of our lives are spent straining out gnats and swallowing camels? We listen to Jesus in Matthew chapter twenty three giving the scribes and Pharisees a tongue lashing like no other. Are we any better than they were?

Are we straining out gnats in our self-righteousness and swallowing camels in our unrighteousness? If our righteousness does not exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, we are spiritually lost.

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)

Maybe it’s way past time we all need to double-check our priorities. Are we living a double-standard? Are we saying one thing and doing another?

If you are without Jesus Christ in your life, you need to swallow your pride and come humbly to the throne of grace. It’s called the cross. Only through Jesus can you be made truly righteous.

“21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” (Romans 3:21-28)

If you are a child of God and you can see that maybe you too have been straining out gnats and swallowing camels, come to the one who saved you, and He will forgive you and make you clean from within.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)

Allergies seem to be on the rise in the 21st century. Maybe that choked up feeling isn’t allergies after all. Maybe it’s just hard trying to swallow that hairy beastly ole camel.

Grant Phillips