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Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) was a Hindu, lawyer, politician, social activist, and writer who became the leader of the nationalist movement against the British rule of India.
He memorized the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) and it appears that he also lived by Jesus’ message. Gandhi was influenced by the Anglican missionary, C. F. Andrews, who likewise based his life on Jesus’ Sermon.
Gandhi never converted to the Christian faith, but there were times when the only message he would speak to the masses was a recitation of the Sermon on the Mount.
What is tragic about American Christianity is that the majority of us neither fully know nor obey the greatest single sermon that Jesus gave his followers.
The Peril of Not Doing
Jesus ended the Sermon with these words.
He said, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock.
“And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell — and great was its fall!” (Matthew 7.24-27 see also Luke 6:47-49).
This is one of the easiest of all the parables to understand. If we obey Jesus’ words, particularly the message of the Sermon on the Mount, we are wise and life will go well for us.
If we disobey Jesus’ words, we are a fool and life will go badly.
God’s Consistent Message
The parable of the Two Builders is a critical theme of the Bible. We cannot take its message as just good advice that can be casually ignored. There are many other Scripture passages that drive home the absolute importance of obedience. Here are a few.
As God was forming his chosen people, Israel, he told them, “If you will only obey the Lord your God, by diligently observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth; all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28.1-2).
Disobedience, on the other hand, had another result. He said, “But if you will not obey the Lord your God by diligently observing all his commandments and decrees, which I am commanding you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you” (Deuteronomy 28.15).
The Psalms and Proverbs counseled God’s people to live in willing obedience to God’s direction. One example among many is Proverbs 12:7.
“The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
but the house of the righteous will stand.”
A lengthy passage in Ezekiel 13 begins with these words, “Because, in truth, because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace; and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear whitewash on it” (Ezekiel 13.10).
What kind of “peace” do the false prophets promise? Their lie is that people can live opposed to God’s will and still receive God’s blessing for their lives.
The words of the false prophets do nothing more than paint whitewash on a crumbling wall. God declared that the wall constructed of falsehoods will perish and the peace of the people will be destroyed (Ezekiel 13.10-16).
James, Jesus’ bother, took up the theme of obedience. He wrote, “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.
“For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.
“But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act — they will be blessed in their doing” (James 2.22-25).
The message from Deuteronomy to James completely supports the emphasis of the parable of the Two Builders. Jesus’ message can be summarized in a simple equation.
HEAR + OBEY = BLESSING
HEAR + DISOBEY = JUDGMENT
What Can We Do?
How can we respond to this important parable? The first step is to become acquainted with the message of the Sermon on the Mount that is found in Matthew 5-7.
Dallas Willard highly recommends that people to memorize the entire three chapters. I have not memorized them, but I have read and re-read the Sermon for years.
Going back to Gandhi. It was quite good for Gandhi to be familiar with the Sermon on the Mount and to be able to quote it. However, the remarkable nature of his life was that he made every effort to live his life based on it.
C. F. Andrews was the person who introduced Gandhi to the Sermon. Gandhi would never have listened to Andrews if he had only quoted from the Sermon. No, what impressed Gandhi was that Andrews lived the sermon in a remarkable way.
What about us? What would our families look like if we followed Jesus teaching about anger, lust, and greed? Who would be benefited if we faithfully practiced prayer and giving to the poor?
The list of benefits of living by Jesus’ message of the Sermon on the Mount could go on and on. The point is that not only are we blessed by obedience, but so are others.
Let’s let this parable confront us and change our behavior.
About This Blog
Klyne Snodgrass has devoted 12 years of study to produce the book, Stories With Intent. His book is recognized as the best book on the parables in print. I am indebted to Dr. Snodrass’ work that helps shape my articles.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and so will the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church.