Nit-Picking

SCRIPTURE

One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grain fields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain. But some Pharisees said, “Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?”

Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.” And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.”

INTRODUCTION

Luke begins this section with two stories about the Sabbath. I thought about doing them together but then it seems the LORD influenced my thinking. In the first story, the Pharisees are spying on Jesus and His disciples and they catch them picking cornels of wheat and rubbing them in their hands to separated the husk from the grain and then eating the grain. It was an “Aha” moment for the Pharisees…”Aha, we caught you, working on the Sabbath.” Jesus disciples had violated at least four maybe five of their 365 Sabbath day laws. Jesus gave them a stern rebuke–[1] Haven’t you read the scripture. It embarrassing when bible scholars forget such obvious passages of scripture as I Samuel 21 where David fleas to Nob and get help from Ahimelech who gives David the sacred bread from the table of presence. Jesus pointed out that David broke the law; this bread was for priest only but because David was hungry and running for his life, bread was given. [2] Then Jesus really threw them a curve, He said, “The Son of man is LORD of the Sabbath.”

  • Jesus is greater than a day, even the Sabbath. Man was not made for the Sabbath, the Sabbath was made for man.
  • Jesus is greater than ritual religion with all its pomp and circumstance.
  • Jesus is greater than the Jewish religious code that created 365 laws regarding the Sabbath.
  • Jesus is greater than Moses, Abraham, David or any of the prophets.
  • Jesus is greater than Judaism

I could go on and on about the glory and greatness of our Savior but today, I want us to focus on the two groups in the story. I am referring to the PHARISEES and the DISCIPLES.

LETS TALK ABOUT THE DISCIPLES FIRST

Jesus has called 12 disciples or followers. These guys are very young. Peter is the only one in the group old enough to pay taxes. The disciples are probably in their teens; very young men. Rabbis did not choose adults to be followers or pupils. It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. These guys are young and they are just starting their journey with Jesus. They are green, untested, untried, and rough around the edges. They are not spiritual giants; they are babes in Christ. They are not ready to be martyrs; they are merely pupils following their teacher. They are kindergarteners just starting.

BUT lets give them some credit: they had left everything to follow Jesus and they were following. Where Jesus went, they went. Every step He made they were making. They were light years away from spiritual maturity but they were devoted followers. One day they would become spiritual giants, one day they would lay down their lives as martyrs but at this stage, they were beginners and they were by no means perfect.

THE SECOND GROUP IS THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS

[SCRIBES AND PHARISEES]

This group is following Jesus also but for the wrong reason. They are dogging Jesus steps in order to find fault. They are their to spy on Jesus and His devoted followers.  Technically, they were persecuting Jesus and His disciples. The Greek word for persecute means to pursue, to hunt, to press, to chase after with the intent of harassing or mistreating. The Pharisees and Scribes were nitpickers.  You probably don’t want to know what a nit-picker is but I am bound to tell you. The phrase comes from the task of removing the tiny eggs of lice (nits) from someone’s hair and clothing, a tedious activity that required close attention and care. The nits usually attach themselves to the root of the hair which means a detail examination of every hair.

In the figurative sense nit-picking is petty criticism or fault finding. It is making a lot out of nothing. The nitpicker’s sole occupation is looking for flaws or faults and then complaining about them without ever making concrete or viable suggestions for improvement. Nit-pickers are always spectators and never participants.

[1] First of all, Nitpicking is as natural as eating or sleeping.

It takes little effort to find faults in others. It is as easy as falling off a log. It takes no effort to be negative, it is our default setting. We were born negative. One of the first words a child learns is NO! Even as a parent, it is easier to criticize your children than to praise them. Do you tell your children what they are doing wrong? Sure you do but do you praise them when they do right? It is easy to find fault.

[2] Every Church has Nitpickers.

I grew up in an atmosphere of Nitpicking. I became a nitpicker at a very early age.  My father said more than once that preachers preached for money and I restated what he said more than once.  We both changed our minds when God called me to preach. When I get around my some of my relatives today, they are often critical of the pastor and I have reminded them more than once, that there are people in my congregation doing the very same thing to me that they are doing to their pastor. Every complaint is petty and trivial. You will not find a church that does not have Nitpickers.

Listen, Jesus was perfect and yet these nitpickers opposed everything he did and said. Look at verse 9, “They were critics of Jesus.” Can you imagine a person with the gall to criticize Jesus? If they criticized HIM, rest assured they will criticize those who follow HIM.

[3] Nitpickers are insecure and laden with guilt.

Do you know why you spend so much time finding fault with others? It is because you do not want to face the truth about yourself. By focusing on the faults of others, you are diverting attention from your faults. How much time to you spend talking about your faults. You remember the story in John 21 where Jesus mildly upbraids Peter. Being on the hot seat made Peter uncomfortable so he points to John and say, “What about him?” He failed You too, aren’t you going to chew him out. Jesus said, “My relationship with Him and my plans for him are not your concern, you focus on following Me.” The Pharisee were laden with guilt, they were guilty of adultery, fraud, and so greedy that they foreclosed on Widows. They religion was cover. They were faking the whole thing.

[4] Nitpicking–Indicates a spiritual problem

LORD willing, I am going to prove this today. Let face the truth, the Pharisees were nitpickers and they had a spiritual problem. They professed to love God but they despised Jesus. While they were steeped in Judaism, they were actually living in rebellion against God. Not only did they not have a relationship with Jesus, they had no relationship with the Father. Jesus said to the Pharisees in John 8:

37 Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there’s no room in your hearts for my message. 38 I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father.”

39 “Our father is Abraham!” they declared.

“No,” Jesus replied, “for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. No, you are imitating your real father.”

They replied, “We aren’t illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father.”

Jesus told them, If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. Why can’t you understand what I am saying? It’s because you can’t even hear me! 44 For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies. So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don’t believe me! Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin? And since I am telling you the truth, why don’t you believe me? Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.”

CONCLUSION

To which group do you want to belong? [1] Devoted followers [2] Nitpickers. It is your choose. God has not predestined you to be a nitpicker, you do it by your on resolve. Did the Pharisees ever change? A few of them did but not many. You can be one of the few if you have the courage to face the truth. You are not following Christ: you use religion or the name of Christianity as a cover but you are not right with God. You have never dealt with your sin and guilt. Today you can begin that journey just like disciples of following Jesus step by step. The way to begin is to be honest.

Joe David and I are going to bow before you has your servant leaders. Like the disciples in the early stages, we acknowledge our spiritual immaturity and the fact that we make mistakes. If you are genuinely concerned with the direction of the church and you are especially worried about the leadership. I want you to come lay your hands on us and say a prayer. It can be silent. Be as critical as you want and ask the LORD to conform us to His will. Our heads will be bowed. I promise, we will never look up. Unless we recognize your voice, we will not know who is praying.

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