By Brock Bondurant
Matthew 7:24-27 – 24 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
My faith is in a dry season. I’ve found myself failing physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. What started with lackluster Scripture study and prayer life has turned into fatigue, physical injury, and sickness (I’m all good I promise). When one area of my life is off, I’m all off.
With all my talk and passion for spiritual formation, I’ve grown lazy and out of touch with my own. Through several life changes, I’ve slowly dropped practices and habits that keep me focused, intentional, and healthy. These practices can be as spiritual as morning silence & solitude, or as seemingly insignificant as walking my dog to the top of the hill and back before bed. The point is, these practices, no matter how spiritual or not that they may seem really are significant because they are forming me into someone. I don’t naturally want to walk my dog that far each evening, but doing so trains me to act in rebellion against my flesh which lazily wants to stay on the couch. Taking time to sit in silence each morning teaches me to be still and tunes my heart into what the Spirit might be saying. And that’s what the Spirit reminded me of this past weekend, personally connecting me to the verses above: put what you know into practice.
Knowledge transfer alone does nothing to transform us into whoever we desire to be. Think of the way we listen to sermons and podcasts, or read books with tons of information on how to better follow Jesus. If we listen without putting into practice what we’ve learned, we gain nothing. For example: if my health was declining and the doctor told me to eat more fruit and exercise more often and I heard her, but didn’t follow her advice; guess what. I’ll still feel crappy. Knowledge of the cure doesn’t help me unless I put it into practice. True belief looks like hearing and then doing accordingly. Or, let’s say I wanted to run a marathon and I bought shoes and then I watched a video on how to be a great runner, but then just sat and looked at my shoes for three months. Do you think I’d be ready to run the race? No. It takes application and intentional practice for me to become the type of person who runs a marathon. It takes months of progressive training, because you don’t just wake up and run 26.2 miles either. First you have to run 1 mile. But that’s just it: you have to put your shoes on and run.
And that’s what Jesus is saying here in Matthew 7. Jesus finishes his Sermon on the Mount by stating that if you hear his words without putting them into practice, you are a fool. We have to take the knowledge we inherit from good teaching and get it into our heart, then live it out through our body. This is how we become more like him.
This weekend, I realized that I’ve settled for months of sitting and listening or reading without intentional practice of what I’ve learned. I haven’t taken the time to meditate on his word (get it into my heart), and then put it into practice (live it out through my body). Opening my Bible, I was drawn to the Great Commandment in Matthew 22:36-40. It’s easy to read the part about loving your neighbor and think, “Yeah. That’s good.” Without practice, what good has reading that verse done? The next step is to discover what loving my neighbor looks like and then actually do it.
Sometimes it takes a dry season to remind us of the Gospel. This Gospel inspires a desperation within me to lean into the scandalous love that the God of the Universe has for me and grow into the man that he created me to be. He loves me enough to take me where I’m at, but he loves me too much to allow me to stay there. Therefore he has given me his word, not only for the sake of learning more about him, but to actually go out and live according to his ways. I want to be a doer of the word, not just a hearer (James 1:22). In response to the love of God, take the words of Jesus and put them into practice.