39He also told them a parable: “Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit? 40A disciple is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully qualified will be like the teacher. 41Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye? 42Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take out the speck in your eye,’ when you yourself do not see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.
43“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; 44for each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. 45The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.
46“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? 47I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. 48That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”
Our world is full of "guides" for almost anything you can think of: personal trainers, financial advisors, estate planners, dietitians, tutors, life coaches, etc. But the kind of guide we are in greatest need is a "guide for life."
And in this arena we have a number of candidates as well: philosophers, gurus, psychotherapists, village elders, religious leaders, yoda, etc.
All these possible guides, unfortunately, can lead us not onto a path of enlightenment but onto a path of darkness. A blind person leading another blind person into a pit, as the passage says above.
The One True Guide of Life is the Author of Life: Jesus, the Son of God. The One Who Gives Meaning to Life is the One Who Can Give Guidance to Life. (Why all these capitalized words? I Don't Know. Maybe so that we might register their importance?)
Now if we believe Jesus is our One True Guide, how are we to respond to him? One is to listen to him but not follow through on what he says. The other is to listen to him and act on what he has to say. These two responses are depicted by Jesus through a figure of speech -- similes -- with which we are familiar: the one who listens and acts on the words of Jesus is like one who builds a house on a solid foundation that can withstand a flood; the one who listens but fails to act on Jesus' words is like one who builds a house without a solid foundation which gives way when the water buffets the house.
Such familiar and simple teaching can be easily dismissed. We might think life is way more complicated than this -- that is, more complicated than hearing the words of Jesus and acting on his words. Can we truly boil down the complexity of our lives to such simple terms? True enough, life can get complicated and complex. But it seems to be true that the core of our relationship with the Lord can be boiled down to listening and obeying.
If we listen and obey (i.e., act on what Jesus says), then over a lifetime our very lives get shaped and built much like a house with a solid foundation that isn't so easily moved by circumstance. The trials and difficulties of life get handled with God's grace and God's hope. We are not so easily shaken.
However, if we listen and fail to obey, then over a period of time (not even a lifetime), our lives, like a house without a solid foundation, will give way to the stronger force of circumstance. We get dismayed, discouraged, and we can fall into despair. Moreover, we fail to mature. The life of faith turns out to be a life without a firm foundation.
Without a firm foundation, the house collapses when trouble hits. Then we might know where we've truly stood.
Let's not build our house on a shaky foundation but on a solid foundation of faith, which means listening to Jesus and acting on what he says. On board?
Let's pray: Lord Jesus, help us with a simple task today: to listen to you and obey what you tell us, especially as you speak through your Word, the Scriptures. We acknowledge that the greatest project we will ever be on is the building of our lives with you. Help us to establish that firm foundation of faith and happy obedience. Just hearing your words is not enough; acting on your words makes the difference. Fill us today with your Spirit and help us to follow through on all that you say to us. In Your Name, Amen.