Monday, January 18, 2010

Wise Builders

We ended our way to short study on the "Sermon on the Mount" last Sunday with a look at the familiar passage from Matthew 7:24-27. You know, the one about building your house on the rock. How many times have you read or heard that passage? Do visions of flannel graphs immediately dance in your mind when you think of this story? Each of the passages used for the last four weeks have intentionally been very familiar to even novice bible readers. I think it's important to study these passages because it serves as a measurement of how much our faith has developed since our years in youth group or children's ministry. We tend to get so familiar certain passages the we can no longer learn anything new. That's sad because there's always so much to learn and do. This passage about the wise builder is no different. We had such a healthy discussion on Sunday, I thought it would be cool to put it in the blog so we can continue to wrestle with what God is teaching us through His Word.

Matthew 7:24-27 NLT
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.
Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004

The precise balance of hearing and doing tends to be a struggle for a lot of folks that follow Jesus. In today's church, with the addiction to "hearing" and knowing, we consequently find our faith a little on the lazy side. We love information, and we love to have it delivered to us in comfortable and creative ways. Unfortunately, knowledge and information don't always result in action.

Proverbs describes wisdom as the application of knowledge. Wisdom is the verb form of knowledge. I've often said that the world doesn't need any more smart Christians. What we need is an influx of wise believers that understand the importance of balancing knowledge and action. It's possible that this passage is describing for us the peril of living an unbalanced life of more hearing than doing.

There are two people in this story and they have some important things in common. There is no religious distinction between these two people. It cannot be assumed that either was further along in their faith than the other, or that one was a believer and the other was not. The task before each of them was to build. An incredibly important, and often overlooked, observation is that each of them heard the same teaching. Again, we can't assume that one heard something more, different, or better than the other. Finally, both are hit with severe storms. This last point of similarity cannot be overstated. Even doing things the right way doesn't exclude us from being hit hard by the storms of this life.

There are also some important differences between the two people. One not only hears the teaching, but follows it as well. Following, or "doing", what was being taught results in an unshakable foundation. For the other person, just hearing wasn't enough. He didn't "do" what he was taught and in the end this proved to be a destructive choice. Actually living out the life God wants for us, not just knowing all about it, is what leads to having a strong foundation.

We find this story at the end of Jesus' "sermon" that pretty much covers all of chapters 5-7 of Matthew. When Jesus says, "...anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it..." he is talking about the words that he just spoke. Words about how we are to treat those less fortunate, deal with sin, love our enemies, handle our finances, get a grip on worry, and many other important issues concerning living a life of faith. So, it is our job to diligently sift through these words and not only hear them, but also do them. It's a whole lot easier to listen to them than it is to put them into practice. But, that's what we have to do in order to build our lives on a foundation strong enough to withstand the imminent storms heading our way.

Is your faith unbalanced? Do you have big ears on a body with little muscle? Knowledge should always be balanced with action in our lives of faith. How's your foundation? Are you a wise builder?

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