by Tad Lindley
You’ve probably been there and seen it happen. You’re not a doctor, but, nevertheless, when you sized them up, you felt that MacDonald’s was not the best dietary choice for them. Perhaps they were in the line beside you and you heard the order. It went something like this:
“Welcome to MacDonald’s, may I take your order please?”
“I’ll have a Big Mac, large fries, supersize that, and two apple pies”. (1,530 calories)
“What would you like to drink with that?”
It’s always puzzled me. How could people be so health conscious when it comes to their beverage choice, and so completely profligate with their food intake? And yet in many areas of our lives we can be the same way. Just like the overweight person patting themselves on the back for washing down the Big Mac with a diet pop, we’ll be very tight in one area of our lives while being complete sinners in another.
Swallowing the camel
Since MickeyD’s wasn’t around in the early AD’s, Jesus used a different illustration: the fly in the soup. Ye blind guides which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. (Matthew 23:24) He was criticizing the Pharisees (the Jewish leaders of his day), that’s why he called them “blind guides”. Jesus was saying, you’ll work really hard to strain a gnat out of your soup, but completely miss the fact that there’s a camel in the pot (camels were repulsive, unclean animals to the Jewish people).
Our personal camels
Sometimes we can become camel swallowers in our personal lives. Often it looks like this: we work really hard to get one issue out of our lives, like alcohol. We feel good about it, and we should. We tell people how long we’ve been sober, but meanwhile we’re smoking dope like a chimney, or hooked on pain medication. Yes we’ve strained out the alcohol, but we’re not anymore saved than we were before.
Sometimes camel swallowing looks like this: we are really good at looking Christian. We never miss a church service, we pray loud, we tithe on everything, and we think that everybody else should get with the program (and they should). We often congratulate ourselves on how good we’re doing living for God. But when we are home behind closed doors, we swallow the camel. We treat people like dirt. Behind the wheel of our car we yell at people. When things don’t go our way, curses come forth from our mouth.
Spit out the camel
We should focus on the good in others, lest we become judgmental. But when we look too long at the good in ourselves, we can end up deceiving ourselves. The time is now for us to search our lives and look for camels that we may have been swallowing. Spitting out the camel can be a humbling experience. It requires us coming to God in repentance, and seeking human help from godly counselors. It may mean sitting down with your family and saying, “I know that I got a lot of bad things out of my life a long time ago. I have felt like that was enough. Now I know it wasn’t.” It’s not easy to spit out the camel, but it will be a weight off of your shoulders.
Back to the Big Mac
Your doctor probably prefers you drink diet pop to corn syrup, but he also wants you to cut out the Big Mac, supersize fries, and two apple pies. In the same way, God cares for the health of our souls. He doesn’t just want the beverage compartment of our lives committed to him, he wants all of our lives, and that is why the greatest commandment is this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, all thy soul, and all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, AK.