SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Jesus continues with His "sermon on the mount" by teaching on:
- Judgment - This is huge problem for Christians who have a reputation for looking down on outsiders for what they believe and how they live. Jesus says, “Do not judge.” Judgment is God’s responsibility and when we judge others we put ourselves in God’s place. Jesus says there is a kind of judging we should do - we need to judge ourselves, making sure to remove the "plank out of your own eye."
- Seeking God and good gifts from Him - Jesus assures us that when we truly seek God we will find him and that God loves to give us good things. But truly seeking God is not common and “only a few find it” (verse 14).
- Discernment - We are warned that there are people who claim to speak for God, but don't. And people who think they follow God, but don't. This is another place where Jesus tells us we should judge. When someone claims to be telling us what God is saying, we should look closely at the “fruit” of their lives. Do they live the things they teach? Do they truly do the will of God? Jesus says that it is entirely possible to prophesy, drive out demons and even perform miracles in Jesus’ name yet not personally know him (verses 22-23).
- Applying Jesus' teaching - Jesus finishes by telling us to put His words into practice. He explains that when we do this we build our life's foundation on rock. When the storms of life hit us we won’t be moved because our foundation is solid. In comparison, any other foundation is sand and will not hold up against the storms of life.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- It's only when we choose to build our lives on our relationship with Jesus and His teaching that we will be safe in life. We will be safe from things that might threaten our identity, our sense of self-worth, our ability to relate to others in healthy ways, and our eternal destinies. It's easy to deceive ourselves into thinking that we are building our lives on Jesus (to say "Lord, Lord") when really we are not. So we need to seek God, examine the fruit of our lives, and remove the things from our lives that keep us from God.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- What “foundation” have you built your life on? Your career, bank account, political party, family, church? Be honest with yourself. The path of truly building on the rock, following Jesus, is narrow, but it's the only path that will get you where you truly want to go. Talk to God about where you're at, and ask Him for faith and strength to seek Him and to stay on the narrow path.