December 15, 2022 | Silver Spring, Maryland, United States | Ted N.C. Wilson, President, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
Greetings, friends. For the last several weeks we have been going through the wonderful book, Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing by Ellen White, focusing on Jesus’ powerful Sermon on the Mount. Today, we will be looking at the last part of that sermon, where once again Jesus speaks plainly on how to live a successful Christian life.
“Judge not that you be not judged,” He said, as recorded in Matthew 7:1. Here, Jesus is warning us not to judge others by our own standards, judging their motives, as if we could read their hearts. “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged,” said Jesus (vs. 2).
It is a law of nature that the way we treat others will come back to us—either for good or evil. What we sow, we will surely reap.
Going further, Jesus points out the hypocrisy of those who are quick to find fault with others, while not considering their own shortcomings. “And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?” He asks (Matt. 7:3).
Commenting on this passage, Ellen White writes, “No one has ever been reclaimed from a wrong position by censure and reproach; but many have thus been driven from Christ and led to seal their hearts against conviction. A tender spirit, a gentle, winning deportment, may save the erring and hide a multitude of sins” (MB, p. 128).
Continuing on, Jesus said, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (vs. 6).
Christ never compels anyone to follow Him; He only seeks to draw them through love. Some, however, “have no desire to escape from the slavery of sin” (MB, p. 129). Of these, Ellen White writes, “The servants of Christ should not allow themselves to be hindered by those who would make the gospel only a matter of contention and ridicule” (MB, p. 129). We are to pray for them and leave them in God’s hands.
Jesus then unfolds this beautiful promise: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (vs. 7). Jesus invites us to come to Him with open, honest hearts, believing He is able to do all things. We read, “The Lord specifies no conditions except that you hunger for His mercy, desire His counsel, and long for His love” (MB, p. 130).
Turning again to our relationship with others, Jesus gives us the Golden Rule: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them . . .” (vs. 12). He encourages us not to look at what we are to receive, but how much can we give. “In your association with others,” writes Ellen White, “put yourself in their place. Enter into their feelings, their difficulties, their disappointments, their joys, and their sorrows” (MB, p. 134). As we identify with them, it becomes easier to treat others as we would want to be treated if we were in their place.
Nearing the end of His sermon, Jesus reminds His followers to “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction. . . . Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (vss. 13, 14).
Here Jesus is pointing out how easy it is to just follow the crowd—doing what is easy and acceptable to the majority; a place, writes Ellen White, where “There is room for every man’s opinions and doctrines, space to follow his inclinations, to do whatever his self-love may dictate” (MB, p. 138). In contrast, Christ urges us to “take up your cross” and follow Him. He has gone before us; He knows every trial we face, and He promises to be with us all the way.
After warning His followers to beware of false prophets, Jesus ends His sermon with a powerful illustration comparing two houses—one built on the rock, the other on sand. Those who listen to Christ’s words and do them, are like the wise man who built his house on the rock. “And the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock” (vs. 25).
But those who hear His teachings and do not do them are “like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall” (vss. 26, 27).
Friends, we are told, “A storm is coming, relentless in its fury. Are we prepared to meet it?” (8T 315). By God’s grace, we can be, as we build our faith upon the rock of His Word. Let us not only hear Christ’s sayings, but by His grace, let us follow them.
I invite you to pray with me just now. Father in heaven, thank You that You’re the solid rock upon which we can lay the foundation of our lives. Help us not to place our belief and lives in things which are transitory and on the sand, which represents false teaching. Lord, help us to always place ourselves on You. Thank You now for hearing us, in Jesus name. Amen.