Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 1, 1959

"Straining At A Gnat"

James L. Denison, Boling, Texas

Occasionally when you point out as wrong something which is generally considered as not being "too bad," people will say: "Oh, quit straining at a gnat. Don't pick at such little things."

They have reference to a statement made by Christ. It reads, "Woe unto ye scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint, and anise, and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ought ye to have done, and not leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." (Matt. 23:23).

To use this passage in the above way is to misapply it. As used above, the passage is made to say; "Don't worry about the little things (or sins), they don't matter. Just concern yourself with the big important matters." The thing wrong with this interpretation of Christ's statement is that Christ simply did not say nor imply such. Note that he contrasts the smaller matters with the weightier ones. He says, These weightier matters ye ought to have done, and NOT TO HAVE LEFT THE SMALLER UNDONE! In other words, both the weightier and smaller matters are necessary. It is a sin to leave off either. The thing Christ was condemning was emphasizing the smaller to the excluding of the weightier.

Brethren, let's "handle aright" the word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15, RV).