Sifting out the miggies - 26 October 2018

Xanthe Hancox

 ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.  Matthew 23: 23-24

Jesus had some harsh things to say about the religious leaders of his day. They focused on the details of their religion, the gnats, and missed God’s big picture, the camels. They tithed their household spices while neglecting to care for the poor in their community. There was nothing particularly wrong with giving attention to these small matters. The problem was that they ignored the bigger issues that matter to God — justice, mercy, and faith.

If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time and been involved in your church community, you’ll know that not much has changed in two thousand years. It seems that the biggest struggle we have always faced is the problem of "majoring in minors." It’s easy to get off track and find ourselves pursuing good minor pursuits at the exclusion of the important and major ones.

Jesus does not criticize the religious leaders of his day for taking scrupulous care of God's laws. What really irritates him is that as that while they were obsessing over small matters, they completely abandoned the key matters, the core issues. You see, discipleship has always been about character and concern: reflecting the character of our Lord and being concerned about the same things that concern him. Unfortunately, we find it easy to fight over these gnat issues and swallow the camel issues. Jesus reminds us what is central: justice, mercy, and faithfulness!

Prayer: Help me see what is most important and focus on those issues without neglecting the little things. Use your Spirit to stir my heart and lead me to pursue the things that show your character and grace to others and bring glory to you. Amen.

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