[Jesus continued his condemnation:] "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore the more important aspects of the law — justice, mercy, and faith. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things. Blind guides! You strain your water so you won't accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!"
— Matthew 23:23-24 NLT
In every age and in every movement of God's people, it seems that one of the biggest struggles we have always faced is the problem of "majoring in minors." It is so incredibly easy to get off track and find ourselves pursuing good minor pursuits to the exclusion of the more important and major ones.
Jesus does not criticize the religious leaders of his day for taking scrupulous care of God's laws. What really irritates him and brings his condemnation upon them is that as they took minute care with small matters, they also completely abandoned the key matters, the core issues.
You see, discipleship has always been about character and concern: reflecting the character of our Lord and being concerned about the same things that concern him. Unfortunately, we find it easy to fight over these "gnat" issues and swallow the "camel" issues. Jesus reminds us of the central issues: "justice, mercy, and faith"!
O Father, help me see what is most important and focus on it without neglecting those little issues that are easy for me to keep. Please use your Spirit to stir my heart and lead me to pursue the things that show your character and grace to others and bring glory to you. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.