Life Giving Choices – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

Matthew 7:21-27

In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus concludes his famous “Sermon on the Mount” with a series of contrasting images:

13-15       There is a narrow gate and a wide gate, says Jesus.  The narrow gate leads to a hard road, while the wide gate opens to an easy road.  The first leads to life, while the second leads to destruction.

15-16       There are good prophets and false prophets, says Jesus.  The false prophets are those who come “in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”  You will be able to distinguish between them by their fruits, he assures us.

16-20       Similarly, there are good trees that bear good fruit and bad trees that bear bad fruit, Jesus tells us.  The good trees remain and continue to produce good fruit, but the bad trees are cut down and cast into the fire.

21-23       Then, Jesus says, there are those who say to me “Lord, Lord” and who do the will of my Father in heaven, and there are those who say, “Lord, Lord,” but do not do the will of the Father.  The first group will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the second group will be sent away.

24-27       Likewise, there are wise people and foolish people.  The wise people are those who hear Jesus’ words and act on them, while the foolish hear the same words but do notact on them.  The wise are like those who build their houses on rock, so that they can withstand the winds and the rain and not fall.  The foolish, on the other hand, are like those who build their houses on sand; when the rain and winds come, they lose everything.

These contrasting images are meant to put before us these choices:  Will we choose the narrow and hard way or the wide and easy way?  Will we heed the good prophets or the false ones?  Will we be trees that bear good fruit or bad fruit?  Will we do God’s will or won’t we? Will we act on what we have heard, or will we dismiss and ignore it?

The Greek word poieo, which is translated “to do” or “to act,” is used 11 times in this passage.  It occurs in the present tense, which is to say that it implies continuous or repeated acts.  It refers, then, to people who not only do certain things, but who keep on doing them.  Doing these things is a way of life for them.  They keep on choosing to hear God’s words and they keep on acting on those words; it’s the way they live, the way they are.

So we are challenged to ask ourselves not whether we have made a choice and done these things at some point in our lives, but whether we are continuing to do them, day in and day out.  Are we keeping on that narrow way?  Are we continuing to bear good fruit?  Are we acting, day by day, on God’s words in a way that befits those who call him “Lord, Lord”?

You might take some time today or this week or this month to ask yourself how you’re doing.  Make an honest assessment of your spiritual state and, if necessary, renew your commitment to following the narrow way – (what would that mean for you?) – and to listening and discerning God’s will so that you can act on it – (what is it that God is asking of you now?).  What we do matters – not only because our choices shape our lives and affect those around us, but also because the choices we make have eternal implications.

Jesus lays before us two ways.  We know which way he wants us to choose.  The question is, are we actually choosing it, day by day and moment by moment?

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