"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them,
may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them,
will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand."
Matthew 7:24-26 (NAS)
What would have happened to mankind if Noah had not chosen to obey God by building the ark? What affect would it have had on history if Abraham had chosen not to leave his home and go to the land to which God called him? What would have happened to the Jewish nation in Egypt if no one had believed God and chose not to brush blood from a lamb on the posts of their doors when the Lord passed judgment on Egypt? What would have happened to Rahab when the walls of Jericho came tumbling down had she not chosen to hang the scarlet thread from her window? Probably a more important question is how would it impact my world if I hear God's Word and then choose not to act upon it? How will it impact my family, my church, and my friends? How would that impact future generations?
The passage above tells me that the only difference between a wise person and a foolish person is that the wise person believes God's word and then chooses to act upon what He believes and a foolish one either choose not to hear or chooses not to act upon it. What that seems to be saying to me is that knowledge itself does not make us wise. However, it is the choosing to act upon it that does. If I am really going to be honest I have to admit that there are teachings that I definitely am obeying pretty consistent. But there are also times that I might be tempted to be content to hear and not act up on what I hear. There are times I hear people even say that there are portions of scripture that they dismiss as irrelevant or outdated or that they just think they can get away with it because of grace. However, God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and His eternal truth and principles don’t become outdated. A lie is still a lie today. Hate is still hate. Murder is still murder. Adultery is still adultery. Fornication is still fornication. The Great Commission, the command to love each other sacrificially, and the instructions to serve each other with our spiritual gifts are still valid. They did not go away simply because time has passed.
When God called me into relationship with Him, He did so in love. It was such a deep and compassionate love that it demanded a response from me. Amazingly according to His word, to love Him is to obey Him, to not just read His word but to live it out. I have come to realize that obeying God's word sometimes takes great courage. Moses had it when he confronted Pharaoh and asked him to let his people go. Joshua had it when he went into the Promised Land in the face of the giants that lived there. The Israelites had it when they defeated Jericho by marching around the city and blowing horns. That still amazes me that men who were trained to fight battles obeyed God and simply marched! Young David had it when he killed the giant, Goliath. Daniel had it when he obeyed God and was delivered from the lion's den. His friends had it when they obeyed and were delivered from the furnace. Peter and Paul had it when they preached sermons that caused thousands of people to be saved in the face of persecution. Christ had it when He chose to go to the cross for you and for me. Why then am I so tempted to disobey when God’s will clashes with mine or when it is uncomfortable or scary to obey?
I know that sometimes I think obedience to God doesn't require as much courage for me as it did for the saints mentioned in the Bible, especially in Hebrews Chapter 11. But it really does. If I commit to loving God with all of my heart, mind, soul, and strength I will be so different in the way I think, the way I speak, the way I act and react, and the way that I relate, because I will be governed solely by love. Because I live in a God-rejecting, often unbelieving and hate-filled world, when I live a life fully devoted to God I will stand out and be a blessing pointing many to Christ, but I will also be persecuted by those who hate God and the holy standard that He represents to them. Many don’t want to be reminded by my words and my lifestyle that they are disobedient to the one who created them and loves them with such a passionate love that demands a response from them too. A life devoted to God will condemn them even when I am acting in love and treat others with kindness.
It takes lots of courage to live out one’s faith. It takes an inner strength to reject the pleasures that we often confuse with love and the appealing temptations this world offers for the eternal things God gives. It takes greater strength to stand up to gossip than it does to join in it, to offer forgiveness rather than retribution, to say no to sexual temptations than to give in to the desires of my body and its chemistry, to push down the sinful urges I was born with rather than to give in to them. It takes greater strength to treat others with love and respect than it does to push my own agenda, greater strength to push down my self-centeredness to put another's needs first, to honestly and respectfully work through conflict to become unified in Christ than to win an argument at the other person's expense, and to edify others when I am filled with human feelings of insecurities and jealousy. Lastly, it takes great strength and courage to confront in love and invite other’s to live in His light rather than silently suffer for fear of abandonment.
Hmmm….I am wondering if you are a wise person or a foolish person? What will you do with God's word this week? Will you be courageous enough to live it out? It is ok if you are afraid, because without fear courage can't exist. It is okay if you feel ambivalent about it, just be honest with God, and then choose to do the next right thing. Most importantly, will you demonstrate that love Him through your obedience, He who made you and who died for you through His own obedience? May we grow wiser day by day as we renew our minds and choose to act on what He teaches us. May we have the same impact on our world as the Saints of old did!
Prayer: Father, we thank you for Your word and Your instructions. Help us realize that the world has a distorted view of wisdom and strength. Help us to choose to live in such a way that we are wise in Your eyes and strong in your might. Help us to apply your word daily to our lives. Help us to be transformed in our minds and help us to conform our will to Yours. Amen.