Summary: God does not want his servants to be paralyzed by fear of making mistakes, but to use everything they have been given for His Kingdom.
There is a difference between knowing something and actually applying it in your life.
I have watched countless hours of football. I know all the positions, and I know the hand signals the officials use, and I feel like I understand how to win a game pretty well. But I’ve never played one real game of football in my life.
I’ve walked on lots of decks at lots of people’s homes. I’ve seen lots of pictures of decks. I’ve even read a couple manuals on how to build one. But I’ve never built one. Not even helped someone else build one!
It’s a LOT easier to know about something than to put it into practice. This is something Jesus was also aware of. And he knew the tendency that all people have to think they are experts in areas of their lives that really all they are is KNOWLEDGEABLE.
If I had to actually play in a football game I’d get creamed – I wouldn’t know the first thing to do!
If I had to build a deck – it would be real slow going, and I’d probably make a bunch of mistakes along the way.
In one short little parable, one quick little story, Jesus emphasizes the importance of actually LIVING according to His teachings and principles.
It’s found in the 7th chapter of Matthew, verses 24-27.
But before I read those verses let me put what we’re about to hear into it’s proper context.
Chapters 5-7 of Matthew are commonly referred to as “The Sermon on the Mount”. That’s because at the beginning of chapter 5, Matthew tells us that Jesus saw the crowds around him, so he went up on a mountainside and began to teach, with his disciples gathered around him.
Then what follows is the longest compilation of Jesus’ teachings anywhere in the Bible. It’s an incredibly important, and hard-hitting, 3 chapters in the Bible. Some have said these 3 chapters summarize his teaching while on earth.
Without reading the entire 3 chapters – which I think you definitely should do later today! – let me give you just a quick synopsis of the big ideas Jesus teaches about.
SERMON ON THE MOUNT
• Blessed are the poor, the meek, the persecuted. (Matt. 5:1-12)
• “You are the salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13)
• “You are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14)
• Be righteous. (Matt. 5:17-20)
• Be reconciled to other people. (Matt. 5:21-26)
• Keep yourself sexually pure. (Matt. 5:27-32)
• Love your enemies and do not resist evil people. (Matt. 5:38-48)
• Give, pray, and fast secretly. (Matt. 6:1-18)
• “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt. 6:24)
• Do not worry, but seek God’s Kingdom! (Matt. 6:25-34)
• Do not judge others. (Matt. 7:1-5)
• “…do to others as you would have them do to you…” (Matt. 7:12)
• “Enter through the narrow gate…” (Matt. 7:13)
• “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21)
This is the context for the story Jesus tells, when he finally gets to our scripture text for today.
Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV) "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. 25The 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. 26But 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. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
I really like the way Eugene Peterson paraphrased this passage in The Message:
Matthew 7:24-27 (The Message) "These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work these words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.
"But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach. When a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards."
Jesus is saying, “if you want your life to stand up when the storms come raging – you have to build it upon the right foundation.”