Trinity Covenant RCUS, Colorado Springs
The prophet Isaiah spoke of the ruin of those who magnified small things: “The scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.” [Isaiah 29:20,21]
Jesus condemned the Pharisees, who strained at gnats and swallowed camels. You can be sure that if someone is overly concerned about gnats, it is because he is choking on a camel.
Perfection does not belong to the present human condition, and is not promised to Christians. Christians cannot live without sin; it is sufficient if they live without crime in both the church and the state. When you encounter those who profess perfection by preoccupation with gnats, you can be sure that they are choking somewhere on a camel.
The simple truth is that some things are not worth making a fuss over. If you see a person making a fuss over nothing, it is because there is something else the matter. Reasonable people recognize it. My foot may hurt if someone is careless and steps on it; but the person who stomps on it deliberately is a greater sinner even if my foot is not injured as badly. I won’t react the same either. A person who deliberately stomps on my foot might need some education.
An old story is told about Johnny, a small boy who captured a wasp on his way to school one day. He put the wasp in a little metal pill box that he carried in his pocket. He forgot about the bee, but during class, the lid worked off the box and the bee began to work on Johnny.
It was in the days when children were expected to sit and keep quiet in school, but Johnny jumped and let out a yelp. “Sit still, Johnny,” the teacher said. “Yes, Ma’am,” said Johnny. The bee hit him again, and he jumped again.
“Sit still, Johnny,” the teacher said again. “Yes, Ma’am,” said Johnny.
The bee hit him again. “Ouch!” said Johnny, squirming again.
“Johnny, didn’t I tell you to sit still,” said the teacher sternly.
“Yes, Ma’am,” said Johnny. “But there is something going on back here that you don’t know nuthin’ about.”
It is true that when people are raising a fuss about some trivial matter, it is because there is something else going on that may not come to light until years later. People raise a fuss about gnats because they hope no one will notice the camel stuck in their gullet.
Jesus said that there are weightier matters in the law, weightier than paying tithes of mint, anise, and cumin. The tithes of small spices should be paid of course, but more attention should be paid to judgment, mercy, and faith.
All acts are not of the same moral equivalency. Unjustified anger is wrong, and will receive the wrath of God, but to say that unjustified anger is as bad as murder is madness. The lustful look will receive its judgment from God, but the man who says, “I looked, therefore I might as well commit adultery,” is a fool. James says that sin begins in sinful desire, but it is perfected—brought to maturity—in the act. It is an annoyance to have a baby crocodile in the bathtub; it is a catastrophe to find a ten-foot monster there. I imagine this is true, although I have never had either in my bathtub.