When you truly treasure another person, doing things for that person is not a chore. In a Godly marriage, when both spouses live for the sake of the other, it’s a beautiful thing. When the motivation for serving is because we treasure and adore the other person, serving them is easy!
The same is true with our relationship with God. When He becomes our treasure, serving and obeying Him is never a chore.
The Passage: Matt 7:13-8:1; Luke 6:43-49
This passage is the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is giving his “closing thoughts and arguments” concerning true righteousness.” He had already said that “unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees you will not enter the kingdom.” (Matt 5:20) Jesus had clearly made his position known. Throughout this “sermon” Jesus has been defining true righteousness in contrast to Pharisaical righteousness. “The multitude was confronted with two diverse interpretations of what God demanded for acceptance into His presence. On the one hand was the explanation of the Pharisees and on the other was the requirement of Jesus.” (Pentacost) “As a unit, this “sermon” is Jesus public rejection of Pharisaic Judaism.” (Fruchenbaum) As he wraps up Jesus gives 4 contrasting examples between Pharisaic Judaism and true righteousness.
- Matt 7:13-14 Two Roads/ways
- Jesus calls the way of the Pharisees the wide road. This he said is “easy.” Interesting that while the law and the hundreds of additional laws put in place by the Pharisees to put a fence around God’s law was a huge burden for the people, Jesus says, “That’s the easy road!” That road leads to destruction and rejection from my kingdom. Following a list of rules is easier than what Jesus was saying.
- “My road is narrow, and the way is hard, but it leads to life Those who enter are few.” The reason it’s hard is because what Jesus required involved the heart, not just outward conformity!
- Matthew 7:15-20, Luke 6:43-4 Two Trees and their fruit
- Jesus calls Pharisaical Judaism the “bad tree” that is bearing “bad fruit.” Luke 6:43 In essence, Jesus was telling the Pharisees, “If you think you are a good tree, but the fruit that comes out of our life is bad, then you are a bad tree that is destined to destruction!” The Pharisees must have been totally outraged by what Jesus said here. Matt 7:16 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” While these words were not directed to the religious leaders, they were certainly watching and listening. Jesus’ opinion of them is clear!
- Luke 6:44-45 “Each tree is known by its fruit! The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Back in chapter 6 Jesus had instructed them to “not build up for yourselves treasure on earth, but to seek first His kingdom. He said in Matt 6:21 where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Now Jesus is adding that treasure in your heart is what will affect your fruit! Furthermore, it’s out of the treasure in your heart that your mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45) Jesus instructed his hearers, “If you want good fruit from your life, then store up for yourself treasure in heaven.” (Matt 6:20) Where your treasure is, your heart will follow, and your mouth will speak.
- Matthew 7:21-23, Luke 6:46 Two Professions
- Not everyone who claims the name of christ is a believer. This is again an affront to the religious leaders. Jesus contrasts those who give lip service to Him, and those who actually obey him. The Pharisees themselves didn’t even keep the laws they expected the people to obey. But Jesus focuses on the heart. Just like he said of Israel, “You obey with your lips, but your hearts are far from me. (Is 29:13; Matt 15:8) The Pharisees thought they were following the law, but Jesus clearly makes the distinction between outward adherence and inward heart.
- The contrast is with those who “hear AND do what I say.” 1 John 5:3 “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.” We show that we love God when we do what He says!
- Matthew 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49 Two Builders
- Jesus again contrasts building a life based on the Pharisaical law vs Jesus’ words. The house built upon the Pharisees teaching will lead to ruin.
- Building our life based on what Jesus said will give you a life that will not be shaken! “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt 7:24) “When a flood arose, the stream broke against the house and could not shake it, because it had been built well.” (Luke 6:48) When our faith is built upon God’s Word, it will not be shaken!
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?
As Jesus wraps up one of the greatest sermons of all time, he leaves his hearers with a challenge in contrast. While he wasn’t directing these words at the Pharisees, He clearly challenges His hearers to not live like the Pharisees were. Their’s was not the path to true righteousness.
The Plan: As I ask these questions of myself, I encourage you to ask them too.
- What can I learn from this? What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
- If I want my words and attitudes to reflect good treasure and true righteousness, my heart needs to be full of good treasure.
- (Road) The path that leads to a life of good treasure is narrow and hard. It is not just outwardly following a list of rules. It involves the heart. (Matt 7:13-14)
- (Fruit) The fruit of of a life of true righteousness (good treasure) reflects Jesus’ life (good fruit). (Matt 7:15-20)
- (Profession) Professing Jesus is more than just being “religious.” It is hearing and doing what Jesus said. (Matt 7:21-24a)
- (Builder) If we want a life of true righteousness, filled with good fruit, our life needs to be built on Jesus’ words. (Matt 7:24-27)
- In Matt 6:19-34 Jesus laid out how to build our lives on His Words. He said, “Do not lay up for yourself treasure on earth (Matt 6:20). Instead, seek FIRST His kingdom! Store up treasure in heaven (Matt 6:33) Pursue hearing and doing what Jesus says because you love Him. Those who obey me are those who love me. (Matt 7:24a) The good treasure will produce good works!
- What do I need become more aware of?
- What kind of treasure do I have in my heart?
- What is the source from which I speak? Self-confidence, or God-confidence?
- What is the source of what I do?
- Am I building a house based on Jesus words, or my own gifts and abilities?
- How well am I hearing Jesus words AND doing them?
- How does God want me to engage with this? What does He want me to do because of what He is saying here?
- 1 Thess 2:13 I want Jesus to be the source of everything I do. I want my words to come from the treasure within… not just words of men. How can my words be from the treasure within? I need to treasure Jesus’ words and allow them to occupy my thinking!
- For our orientation, I need 2 Cor 1:3-4 be my guide. Instead of focusing on evaluation, continue to focus on empathy and sharing out of God’s comfort.
The Power; Implement and Integrate
The power to change is in the implementation and integration. We can talk all we want, make lots of plans, but until we do something about it, and develop habits that integrate those truths, we will never change. What is the one thing I need to do as a result of this study today?