No Third Way
I praise You, Lord. Your strength sustains me, Your counsel directs me, and Your Word instructs me.
Read LUKE 6:43-49
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“It is foolish to build a house without a foundation. Likewise, it is foolish not to listen to Jesus. We should hear his invitation to enter God’s grace and experience the assurance God offers” (Darrell L. Bock).
The idea that there were only two ways to live ran deep in Israel’s mindset, as Deuteronomy 30:15 and 16 and Psalm 1 illustrate. Jesus assumes this fault line that divides humanity as he comes to the end of his sermon on the plain and challenges people to decide which way they’re going to live. Using two everyday examples he points out that a fruit tree may be either good or bad and builders can either build on sensible or ill-advised ground. The quality of the fruit produced inevitably reflects whether the trees are good or diseased. The longevity and quality of the building depends on whether the ground permits good foundations or only flimsy ones to be laid.
The pictures are obvious but Jesus makes two different points from them. We don’t have to be told that the fruit a tree produces is tied to its inner life. So it is with us. If we want to be good people–people of virtue, love, gentleness, grace, forgiveness, not angry and so on–we must give attention to our hearts. As Proverbs puts it, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Prov. 4:23). Our hearts need to be put right and kept right with God. How can we do that? That’s where the two kinds of buildings come in. To be good we must build our lives on the right foundation, which means more than listening to Jesus’ teaching (and sermons in so far as they expound it) and more than just approving of it. We must actively live by it and work it out in practice. Given the number of sermons preached I suspect many find it easier to listen than obey, but Jesus is crystal clear on the issue here and elsewhere (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:31-46). So too, subsequently, is his half-brother James (Jas. 1:22-27).
Put yourself on a spiritual heart monitor. Is your heart wholly for God? How does it show in the way you live out Christ’s teaching?
Lord, my prayer is expressed in this song: “Change my heart, Oh God. Make it ever true. Change my heart, Oh God. May I be like You” (Eddie Espinosa).
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