January 23, 2020 – Thursday
Matthew 7:24-27 NIV
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.
26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.
27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Yesterday we read God’s words to Ezekiel about how His people were not putting His words, given to Ezekiel, into practice. Looking at Jesus’ words above roughly 600 years later, He is not complaining about people not putting His words into practice, but is instead telling them the personal consequences of putting His words into practice or not putting them into practice.
Jesus’ words above came as He concluded what we have named His Sermon on the Mount which began with the Beatitudes at the start of chapter five and concluded near the end of chapter seven with the words we have above.
Jesus first tells us if we put His words into practice we will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. He does not promise a life without trials or tribulations. In fact He speaks of overflowing streams and strong heavy winds and the house remains standing because it had its foundation on the rock. Of course we are not houses built on the rock, we are flawed human beings. However, if we follow His teachings (the rock) and build our lives around them, we can withstand the trials and tribulations that will come our way. What trials and tribulations? How about illness, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, death, the loss of loved ones, betrayal by friends and enemies alike, gossip, attacks against us for our faith, attacks against our faith, and our own personal failings that our faith on the rock that is Jesus and His teachings makes it possible to survive any or all of that. All we have to do is look around us as we all know people who somehow under the most incredible (terrible) circumstances remain solid in their faith and love of Christ … and of those around them.
What of the men and women who do not put Jesus’ words into practice. What happens to them? Jesus makes it pretty clear that when the storms of life come upon them they will find their values, their foundation is not strong enough to support them. Whatever their trials and tribulations, they will find themselves lost, flailing about, seeking anything for support to get them through the storms they are living through as they do not have the rock that is faith in Jesus and His teachings to carry them through it all. They could turn to Jesus as some do and resolve their problems that way building a new foundation that will sustain them. They may have heard Jesus’ words before but never really put them into practice. Jesus clearly said hearing His words was not enough, they had to be put into practice.
Beyond the life foundations what are we talking about when we speak of putting Jesus’ words into practice? Truth be told, it is not simply foundations for this life we are talking about when we speak of putting Jesus’ words into practice. Instead the foundations we are talking about are for our eternal future. Jesus is giving us the tools to build up riches in heaven, life choices we can stand firm upon so that when judgment comes we need not be fearful. Still, as we have already noted those who hear His words and do not put them into practice will find on that day – judgment day – all their expectations will collapse around them, like a house built on sand. Note the house built on sand does not simply fall, but it fell with a great crash with eternal cost.
It amazes me how some believe God wants to condemn people to hell. He does not. That is why Jesus came as He explained to Nicodemus in John 3:17-18: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
The questions for each us are: Do we really understand Jesus came to save us? Are we listening? Are we putting Jesus’ words into practice? What choices are we making?