"But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance" (Jesus' explanation of the Parable of the Sower in Luke 8:15).

Spiritually, an honest heart is critical to a fruitful life. An honest heart grasps, receives, understands, and lives on the basis of God’s teaching.

One of Jesus’ earliest teachings according to Matthew was Jesus’ sermon on the mount. The people who heard Jesus were quite religious, but they missed the point of belonging to God. Their failure hinged on their confidence that God could be pleased and people be deceived at the same time. Their spiritual problem was dishonesty. Consider Matthew 5:21-48. May we let their problems make us shudder as we consider our lives!

(1) They would not dare take a physical life, but they would destroy with their words. In anger they would speak with contempt. They said things that would make them liable in their courts or liable before God eternally.

(2) They would not dare commit adultery, but they would lust without restraint.

(3) They deliberately deceived through their vows by declaring their vow was not binding. Thus they lied while appearing to tell the truth.

(4) They sought vengeance by excusing themselves from being compassionate.

(5) By tweaking their religious rules, they behaved like people who did not even know God. Jesus said God and God only was their standard.

These people were very religious by being consistent with what they heard. They believed how one did something was more important than what he or she did. They thought doing things the right way was what was important to God. Jesus told them the outcome of what they did was as important as the way they did it.

If we follow Jesus Christ, we need to be trustworthy. I need to know I can depend on you, and you need to know you can depend on me. We cherish each other and our relationship because we both understand something bigger than us is involved—people’s view of Jesus Christ and God.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 7 June 2007

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