Imagine this: you’re sitting on a sloping hillside alongside a few dozen other people. There’s a gentle breeze blowing and the mood is anticipatory because you’re getting ready to hear from Jesus–not simply the words of Jesus, but from Jesus Himself.
You listen intently for minutes that turn into hours until the sun begins to hang low in the sky. You know you must have been there for a while, but the words of Jesus made it seem like just a few moments.
Jesus covered a lot in His message: how to live blessed, how to love others, about heaven and about hell, about prayer, and about what it means to be generous.
Everything He said struck a place deep in your soul. It was like you’ve known it forever to be true, but are at the same time discovering it to be true for the very first time.
Jesus’ words fell from His lips with such confidence and clarity that they seemed like they would never stop echoing in your mind.
Even as you thought this wonderful moment would never end, you hear the cadence of Jesus’ words change signaling that His talk was coming to a close. This change in tone–something you’ve heard (and even welcomed) so often in other speakers–reminds you that your time with Jesus is short. He’s wrapping up.
Because you wish Jesus would keep speaking through the night, you focus even more intently on his closing remarks. Everything had been so beautiful up to this point–how could He possibly top it?
Then Jesus does the unexpected… He closes with a warning…
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise,Matthew 7:24-27 NLT
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.”
Jesus, wait a second. You’re God in the flesh. We literally just heard God teach us directly–and You’re saying that’s not enough?
Yes, that’s exactly what Jesus is saying.
Jesus closes the Sermon on the Mount by telling everyone physically on the mountainside listening to Him and everyone who has read the account since that hearing God’s Word–even if you hear it directly from the lips of Jesus Himself–is not enough.
You see, in Jesus’ example, both the wise person and the foolish person hear Jesus’ teaching. The difference between the wise person and the foolish person isn’t what they heard, it’s what they did.
The foolish person did nothing.
The wise person obeyed and applied it.
It is not enough to simply hear God’s Word—we have to put it into practice.
We can hear all the sermons, listen to all the podcasts, and even read from our own Bibles at home, but if we do not live out what we are hearing it does us no good. Application is the true difference-maker.
James, Jesus’ half-brother (same mom, different dads), echoed this:
Don’t just listen to God’s word.James 1:22 NLT
You must do what it says.
Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.
Let me end the same way Jesus did.
Are you foolish or wise?
Are you just hearing or are you doing?
Are you dabbling in God’s Word or are you letting God’s Word make you different?
If you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard,James 1:25b NLT
then God will bless you for doing it.