Being Doers of God's Word
Jesus lands the Sermon on the Mount with an exhortation that should cause us to pause and reflect on our lives before Him. As we arrive at the end of the Sermon in Matthew 7:24-27, we come to the command to obey what we have read. To be Christians we must do more than only read or hear the Scriptures. We must do more than say we believe or value them. We must follow them, we must do them. As Jesus draws a contrast between a house being built on either rock or sand, he shares that the defining difference between the two is that those who stand strong like the house founded on the rock are the ones who heard His words and acted upon them. Applying the Word of God to our lives is a non-negotiable facet of the Christian life. Scripturally, we can’t ignore or avoid this reality.
Jesus’s brother James (the traditionally believed writer of the epistle of James) echoes this sentiment in his letter. Toward the beginning of his letter (James 1:22-25), he tells us that it is vital that we not be people who only hear the words of God without actually doing them in our everyday lives. He uses the illustration of a person looking at themselves in a mirror, walking away, then immediately forgetting what they look like to illustrate what it is like for someone to hear God’s words but not live them out. Contrary to that person, however, are the ones who are called “blessed.” Are the blessed ones those who remember, told others, or wrote about what was said? No. The blessed ones are those who heard and/or read the word and abided in it and followed it in how they lived.
An example of not applying Scripture to our lives through our actions (deeds, words, thoughts) are the scribes the Pharisees. In His scathing rebuke of these religious leaders in Matthew 23, Jesus shows that a major issue of theirs, amongst many, was that they knew the commandments of God but chose to not obey them. At the beginning of His lengthy castigation, He tells all who can hear, “all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.” Further along in His rebuke, He tells them that they have even kept select parts of the law while neglecting the important parts. They continued with their tithes and offerings while neglecting the issues of justice, mercy, and faithfulness (23:23). This is a warning to us two-thousand years later, as well. May we not remember to do the parts of Scripture that are easy or convenient while neglecting the parts that cost and challenge us.
I believe that we are globally passing through a season of enduring the winds and floods that Jesus speaks about here at the end of the Sermon. Whether it be a pandemic, financial issues, racial injustices, isolation, or just the struggles that come with everyday life, we’ve been going through a storm. By the grace of God, however, we’re not alone or without instruction. So, let us not waste time in being doers of God’s word, for through it we have stability, safety, and strength. No matter if the winds and floods continue for months or minutes, our foundation is eternally steadfast and safe as long as we keep our eyes on Him. Obedience is not our ball and chain, but our freedom and security, our strong tower in times of trouble.