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Gnat Strainers and Camel Swallowers | alifeofstudy.org

Gnat Strainers and Camel Swallowers

Matthew 23:24 You blind guides, which strain out a gnat and swallow a camel

This is a rather interesting verse in Matthew’s Gospel. Have you ever thought about what Jesus meant in this saying?

I was studying this small text and was quite amazed at its depth and meaning. Jesus painted a picture with His words, as He usually did, with this strong rebuke to the Pharisees. Jesus didn’t spare words when He described the Pharisees as “hypocrites,” “serpents,” “vipers,” “blind guides” and even “fools.” What brought about this rebuke to the religious leaders of that day?

For one, the Pharisees majored on the minor and minored on the major. Secondly, they believed they had a corner on the spiritual marketplace. Jesus, not so kindly, tells them other wise. The Pharisees appeared to be the spiritual guru and sneered their nose at anyone who didn’t see it their way. Granted, they went above and beyond the Law, but left zero room for God’s Grace. So Jesus paints a portrait with gnat straining and camel swallowing.

According to the Law of Moses, gnats and camels were considered unclean and the Jews were not to eat them (Deut. 14:3-20). The gnat and the camel represented the smallest and the largest, respectively, of the prohibited animals. The Jewish religious leaders would drink wine with clenched teeth to avoid any gnats or insects that may have gotten into their wine. The Pharisees were more concerned about being contaminated by the smallest insect than they were about swallowing a large camel. So in actuality, according to Jesus, they were more concerned about an unclean insect than they were about their greed, pride, ego, self-worship, jealousy and dishonesty. 

“They regarded trifles as if they were of first importance, and so, as it were, strained out gnats from their wine, lest they should be choked; but they committed great sins without any compunctions of conscience, and thus, in effect, swallowed a camel, an unclean animal, equal in size to an almost innumerable quantity of gnats. There are gnat-strainers among us still, who apparently have no difficulty in swallowing a camel, ‘hump and all.‘” - Charles Spurgeon


25 Responses to “Gnat Strainers and Camel Swallowers”

  1. James Chessor January 16, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

    Thanks for the post. I needed this today. God bless you, my friend.

    • Nate Whitley January 16, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

      Thanks, Bro. Chessor. Love you all!

  2. Michael Maupin January 16, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Love it!!! Great word for the day that we are living in!

    • Nate Whitley January 16, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

      Thank you, my friend. Keep up the good work for the Kingdom!

  3. Chad Rayburn January 16, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    Good word man. God lead me to Matthew 23 about 2 or 3 months ago and I really started studying this out. Thanks for the insight on the gnat straining. Just like Chessor said, I needed this too.

    • Nate Whitley January 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      Thank you, Bro. Chad. I appreciate your ministry and friendship.

  4. Robert Martin January 16, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Tremendous. Thanks for sharing. May God help us keep proper perspective. Appreciate you.

    • Nate Whitley January 16, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

      Thank you, Bishop Martin. I am honored that you stopped by to read my post. I appreciate your leadership and ministry.

      • brian October 15, 2013 at 11:36 am #

        As you have said it is what I believed it to be from when I first read this. But can you tell me , how dose one understand and know a meaning without the literal meaning?

  5. Joseph Perez January 16, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

    Awesome! Love reading your post!

    • Nate Whitley January 16, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

      Thanks, Joseph. Keep doing what you’re doing!

  6. Chase Vicars January 17, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    Great word as always. Appreciate you brother!

    • Nate Whitley January 17, 2013 at 3:18 am #

      Thanks, Chase. I appreciate your kind words.

  7. M L Walls January 17, 2013 at 4:31 am #

    Interesting and put together well. Something that we all can benefit from by watching our actions and reactions to what we are confronted with.

    • Nate Whitley January 17, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

      Bishop Walls, I am honored that you read my blog post. You have been a huge inspiration to my life. I love you all very much!

  8. Tyler Dunn January 17, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Bro. Nate, I see this as young in the faith, that too many times we can get caught up on the three parts to the plan of salvation, and lose sight of the bigger picture: loving people where they are in God, pursuing holiness on the inside, and our own personal growth. Many thanks, Pastor. I appreciate your example more than you know.

    • Nate Whitley January 17, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

      Thank you, Tyler. Keep that fire blazing!

  9. M.M.Russell January 17, 2013 at 6:04 pm #

    You inspire me brother!

    • Nate Whitley January 17, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

      I appreciate you, my friend!

  10. D.J. Shoulders January 17, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

    Awesome read Bro. Nate—very well said and put together. As always, I am so proud of your ministry. You are the real deal

    • Nate Whitley January 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

      Thanks, Pastor Shoulders. And, no, YOU are the real deal!

  11. Brian Dunkley January 25, 2013 at 11:42 pm #

    Well done! Definitely need to keep our priorities in line. If I tackle the giants in my life and conquer them. The gnats well be an easy win. That’s why Jesus told the Pharisees there where full of dead men’s bones. They looked the part but didn’t have the heart. Thanks, you are a blessing!

    • Nate Whitley January 26, 2013 at 4:40 pm #

      Thanks, Brian. I appreciate your comments, keep them coming!

  12. Michael Freundlich January 18, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading you blog post on Gnat Strainers and Camel Swallowers. I really learned something from it. Please keep your blog posts coming. God bless you Pastor Whitley! May the grace, mercy, peace, and comfort of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ be with you always!

    • Nate Whitley January 19, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

      Thanks, Michael!

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