The Sermon on the Mount – Continued
The Lord Jesus raises the standard of behaviour for His disciples. Loving, doing good, blessing and praying for those who are our enemies and who hate us to the extent of physical abuse, is not a natural reaction. However, this is what He expects from His followers. The rule now is to do to others as we would have them do to us. It is normal to love and do good or to give to those who feel the same way about us, but we have to treat our enemies as we would our friends. We also ought to give to others, not seeking anything in return or just to gain personal advantage. If we show these qualities, we shall receive great reward from the Father, and we will also be displaying His character, for He is kind and merciful to those who are unthankful and evil.
We have not to sit in judgment or condemn others if we don’t want to be judged or condemned ourselves. Then again, if we forgive and give, we shall receive the same in return. Indeed, what we receive in return will be far more abundant than what we actually gave. This encourages us to give abundantly, knowing that we shall receive again in like measure.
Blind leaders who lead the blind (like the Pharisees) are likely to cause them to fall into a pit. Those who follow their teacher are not greater than the teacher, but when the teaching has its desired end in them, then they will be like their teacher.
There is no point in trying to correct some small thing in my brother’s life if there is something far more serious that requires adjustment in my own. That kind of behaviour, the Lord says, is hypocrisy, and we must look at ourselves first and set our own house in order before turning our critical eye on others.
Two trees, two hearts, and two houses
From verse 43 – 49, the Lord gives us three couplets: the good tree and the corrupt tree, the good heart and the evil heart, and the house built upon the rock contrasted with the house built upon the sand.
The type of tree it is determines the type of fruit that it produces. Likewise, a good heart brings forth good treasure, but a heart that treasures up evil will surely produce evil. It is certain that what we are within will manifest itself outwardly.
The illustration of the two houses is given to show what a person who comes to Christ is like, if they hear and carry out His word. They are building upon a sound foundation, which will stand them in good stead when trial and difficulty come. The storms of life will not shake them, because they are built upon the rock of His precious word. However, those who are not obedient to what they hear are building upon the sand. There is no sure basis to their lives, and they have nothing to withstand the pressures that surely come upon us all. They are exposed when the test comes and are swept away, finding themselves in ruin.