Listen to Know; Listen to Do

Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. (Matthew 7:24-27)

THEREFORE you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: … (Romans 2:1-6)


In grief-filled fascination, I realize the American Restoration Movement began about 1800 as a unity movement. In time, the movement transitioned to a defensive movement. In less time it transitioned to an isolationist movement. Now it is fragmented. One large fragment seeks to understand God’s purposes with scripture as the source. Another large fragment identifies “the right to exist” with a desire to declare everyone’s error inside or outside the movement.

It is difficult to learn from others’ mistakes. Jesus said to a Jewish audience in Palestine, “Do not listen for the wrong reason. Listening to learn what is wrong with people you resent is the wrong reason. Listen to transform your lives. Life is full of moral and ethical floods. The real issue: ‘Will your life stand after your floods come?’ Do not listen for others. Listen for yourself. Listen to act. Listen to change yourself rather than listening to discover what is wrong with others.”

Paul was upset with the Jewish people who thought they were experts in knowing others’ errors. He was concerned because these self-appointed judges were as ethically deficient as those they condemned. People who were supposed to be God’s people were a significant factor in idol worshippers not considering the living God seriously. Thus, one of God’s obstacles was the misimpression created by those who claimed to represent Him. Evidently, Paul often had to teach godless people about God by dismissing the example of those who declared “I am who I am because of God.”

Do you find Jesus’ and Paul’s declarations frightening? Why?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 25 October 2007

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