Straining Out Gnats

Q. I read once, long ago, something about doing something “to a gnat and swallowing a camel”. I cannot find the verse, but I was wondering if you could and tell me exactly what does that mean???

A. The verse you’re thinking of is Matt. 23:24. “You blind guides. You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel”. Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees who were diligent to a fault in keeping the Law. For example, before taking a drink of water they poured it through a cloth to strain out any small insect that might have fallen into it. In this way they made sure not to accidentally ingest something unclean. The Lord was accusing them of being so focused on the most insignificant of details that they missed the big picture of what the Law was meant to teach them.

Later Paul would explain that the Law was never intended to save anyone, but to reveal the extent of man’s sinfulness (Romans 3:20) and confirm his need for a Savior. The Pharisees had forgotten this and went to impossible extremes in their effort save themselves by keeping it.

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