Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. Matthew 7:26-27
In medicine, noncompliance, is the term we use for that patient who knows what to do, but simply won’t do it. He understands his disease and the consequences of not treating it, but for whatever reason, he finds the treatment too difficult. This is the diabetic who won’t change his diet, check his blood sugar, or take his medications. In not participating in his treatment, this individual has chosen destruction and sometimes death.
Before I’m too condescending to the noncompliant patient – What an idiot! – I must be honest about my own choices in life. I’ve engaged some profoundly unhealthy behaviors, even while understanding how unhealthy they were. I’ve known the way of life and, because of my own self-destructive appetites, chosen the way of destruction.
This is the condition Jesus describes in today’s passage and unfortunately, it’s something we’re all familiar with. In the passage, Jesus says the wise man doesn’t just hear Christ’s words. He does them. The foolish man then, is the one who hears but then fails to follow through with any change. This is the noncompliant follower of Christ, who turns out to be a fraud, as he follows only himself. In doing so, Jesus says the foolish man has chosen destruction.
This is the one who believes God exists and even goes to church every Sunday. He may have heard thousands of sermons, but yet he remains a spectator. His faith is brain-deep, not life-deep. Knowing all the right doctrine, he fails to follow through with any behavioral transformation. He is noncompliant, and though he knows what he should do, Jesus says he has still chosen destruction. Knowledge alone is useless.
It is the wise man who listens to Christ and then does. Doing is difficult though. There is a reason the noncompliant patient is noncompliant. The path to life requires hard work and sacrifice and frankly, it’s often just easier to follow our self-destructive appetite. If we want to know life, faith, and recovery though, we must daily hear Jesus’ words and then daily, we must do them.