Wise & Foolish

This Tuesday, we look forward to reading what God placed on Elder Bill Johnson’s heart for our Devotional ending our look at Matthew 7.

We have reached the end of The Sermon on the Mount, which began with the Beatitudes, nine statements each describing the person who is “blessed”.  Now the concluding words of Jesus are “it fell with a great crash”.

These words come from the parable of the “Wise and Foolish Man”, found in Matthew 7:24-27:

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.”

This is a simple story.  Each man built a house, one on sand and the other on the rock.  The house on the sand collapsed when it came under stress, whereas the house of the wise man remained firm on the rock, when under the same stress.

Both the wise and foolish men recognized the need to build a home.  There is no indication that either home appeared to be superior to the other, unless one were to look below the surface.  Only when wind, rain and floods came did the defects, which were catastrophic, come to light.  

This parable is a story to warn that hearing the words of Jesus is not enough.  Those words must be “put into practice”.  In 2 Corinthians 13:5 we are also warned to “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.”  It is either or.  Our house either has a foundation or it doesn’t.  We are either “in the faith” or we do not.  We can either examine ourselves now or wait for the storms of life to see if our house will stand. 

The warning given in this parable was not given to those who were in rebellion against Jesus but to those who were religious and followed him around, listened to his teaching and believed his words.  When addressing Jesus they would say “Lord Lord…”  But Jesus knew their hearts and asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46)  

Throughout the Bible similar warnings are given.  An example is found in (Deuteronomy 30:19) “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life.” 

The foolish man made the choice to not build his house on the rock that would have meant long, hard, difficult hours of extra work.  Also, the price of property with the sandy soil was probably less than land where one could build on the rock.  

In the sermon Jesus had just spoken of the “narrow gate”, and warned “…wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  The foolish person who chooses the wide gate might do so for the very reason that it was not narrow.  They would not want to appear narrow but open minded, open to all possibilities–“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)  The wide gate led to a way that was well traveled.  Apparently the better way, the easier way, otherwise why would so many chose it.  

Five times in the sermon Jesus spoke of the righteousness of God.  They were told to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).  If we seek the God’s righteousness we are like the wise man who put the words of Jesus into practice.  

Jesus also said “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6).  Because we are fallen creatures we do not naturally hunger and thirst for righteousness.  

Because it is not in our nature to desire righteousness, we must pray that God will give us a hunger and thirst.  Peter wrote (2 Peter 1:3-11) that God’s “…divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” I encourage you to read the remainder of the passage when you can (2 Peter 1:3-11).

A week ago Sunday, we concluded the service by singing the following words:

Change my heart, O God,
Make it ever true;
Change my heart, O God,
May I be like you.
You are the Potter,
I am the clay;
Mold me and make me,
This is what I pray.

May we not be so foolish as to sing these words but not put them into practice.

We cannot escape, trials and trouble come to all of us.  A life built on Jesus We cannot escape, trials and trouble come to all of us.  James Montgomery Boice wrote, “A life built on Jesus and his teaching will stand – it will stand in the trials and testings of life and it will stand for eternity.”

Take a moment this week to reflect on how you are living out God’s Word in your day to day life. Look back at the Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, which we’ve just gone over. Are there some things that you have yet to obey & actually apply or do? Take time to pray for help, opportunity or strength to obey. Share it with a trusted brother or sister in Christ, or with your Life Group and ask for accountability or support!

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