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The  camel


Fourth Woe


You can but admire our Lord's command of language.  Here again we have a cliché of our language in the original form. 

The example would have hit the Pharisees as well.  Both the camel, which was probably the largest animal they knew of, and the gnat, which would do for the smallest, are unclean in the ceremonial law.  The hyperbole would probably have produced a couple of chuckles in the crowd.

The "more important matters" - "weightier," in the old King James Version, are an echo of the prophet Micah:

(Micah 6:8 NIV)  He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

·        Justice—we have seen in our own time the growing conviction that our courts do not do justice.  The guilty go free if they can afford a sharp lawyer, and the innocent poor man is too often convicted.  As Oliver Wendell Holmes once reminded a litigant, "This is a court of  law, sir—not a court of justice."  But if this disturbs you, should you not render justice as you can?  We may not expect justice, but we can always try to deliver it.

·        Mercy—the balance weight of justice is mercy.  It is a clear point of the New Testament that those who forgive, are forgiven.  But forgiveness is difficult, for it goes against our anger, our lust for vengeance, and so much of our culture.  "Don't get mad, get even," says our culture.  How is one to go against this, unless there is the great love of mercy?

·        Walking humbly with God—here is a word picture of faithfulness.  Faith is an action word.  To walk with God is to be faithful to him.  To do so in humility means that you have a clear understanding of who you are—and who God truly is.

We need to check ourselves on these three things.  Let's put it in personal terms:

·        When you have a dispute with someone, are you concerned about getting your way, or resolving the argument fairly?

·        When someone offends you, is it a pleasure to be forgiving, or are you grudging about it?

·        Do you trust God completely, as one in control, or do you barter with him as an equal?

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