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Bug Slurpees and Camel Casserole
by Don Beers
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Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites. For you make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
Blind Pharisee; cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
Matthew 23:23-25

Hard words, searching words but not words of criticism; not from Jesus. He never used the word “hypocrite” the way we oftentimes do. There’s a lesson in that as well. We have this notion that if Jesus used the word then we can too and to a point that’s true, but let’s not forget that all that He said was because of His love for those He was speaking to.

The disciples at one time wanted to call down fire from heaven. They even had a biblical precedent. Elijah had called down fire from heaven and they thought that because they had read it in the bible that it would be okay for them too.

Jesus told them, as He does you and me that even though we see the behavior of another that is, or perceived as, sinful; we are not to call fire down on them or throw fiery words at them, such as “hypocrite”. We may not know, as Jesus said: “what spirit you are of”

Doing the biblical thing for the wrong reason is as equally sinful as the act the other person has done to draw our “fire”.
We have assumed that “hypocrite” is synonymous with “fake” and that is not the meaning of the word.

The literal meaning of the word is used to describe one who wears a mask.
They are not “fake” as we use it, but, they are hiding. Remember the scene in the garden? “…and Adam hid himself”

It’s the heart of man to hide from his Creator and it’s the heart of man to cover himself up, to conceal. Fear does this to us and it is the heart and mind of the Seeker of men, Jesus Christ to show that there is no reason (yet) to be afraid of Him.

He came to seek and to save that which was lost and it is with that heart that He calls these men “hypocrites”. He was grieved because they insisted on hiding from Him. He was not mad at them, but hurt for them.

If you still feel as if “hypocrite” is used in derision, I’ll call your attention to one other scene. As He looked out over Jerusalem and wept for those people, does it make sense that He would call them “hypocrites” (with the traditional meaning of that word that we have unwittingly adopted) and weep for them at the same time? Of course not.

Let’s move on, I’m getting off target here. (Or am I?)

I have had financial hard times, who hasn’t?
I have not been able to forget one time I called a brother for help. It was a pressing time of immediate need.

Lakeland Electric was on their way to disconnect our service. Work had been slow and the cash flow was anything but flowing. (Well, it flowed like cold peanut butter any way)

Now, Florida is known for its’ weather. It’s November 15th and it will probably be in the high 70’s today. Where most of you need electricity for heat this time of year, we still need it for air conditioning!

I told our brother the situation and the very first question he asked me was:
“Have you been tithing?”
I don’t know if Lakeland Electric cared either way and to be honest with you, the tithe was not on my list of “Things to worry about Today”.

He had a biblical reason for asking the question but it was hardly the time for a lecture on the subject. He had overlooked “judgment, mercy and faith”.

Allow me another illustration; one that I hope will clear some things up for you. I’ll paraphrase because you are familiar with the story.

They take the woman and throw her at Jesus’ feet. (Be careful here, there are times our prayers are just like this; in our self absorbed theology we may take them to Jesus, but we do it as if we are somehow worthy to talk about them to the King. We throw them at His feet.)

“We found this sin in her life! The bible says to throw rocks at her! What do you say?”
“Well” Jesus begins, “I agree with you on that point of law. The Word is very clear about this issue. So, here’s the way we are going to go about killing her. The one of you that has not done this particular sin, or even thought about it, that person gets to go first! Deal?”
You know the rest of the story.

Okay, one last illustration and I’ll end it here. On a more personal level though.

I have a real hard time with self righteous people! They push my buttons faster than rush hour traffic on I-4 or the person in the “10 Items or less” lane with a basket full of golf balls, individually wrapped and priced.

But, here’s the deal, the Lord is showing me (because He loves me) that what I am really saying is this:

"If they were as humble as I am they wouldn’t be so self righteous. I have a standard for humility that they have not obviously attained to yet; therefore, I have a greater understanding than they do.”

So, what’s the moral of the story? You know the, strain a gnat and swallow a camel introduction?

Just this- “If you don’t overlook the things that bug you, how do you want your camel cooked?”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Lauren Beyenhof 15 Nov 2006
You're right, the word "hypocrite" is oft misapplied. One of my friends has a tendency to flippantly refer to herself as a Pharisee, and I wonder what she means when she says that. In reading this article, I felt as though you were holding back somehow. There are a lot of great points you make that could become articles in and of themselves. The parts that tie back to the main verse are the discussion about the difference between fake and hypocrite, especially when you mention how Jesus wept over Jerusalem.


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