A large, illuminated cross stands erect on Table Rock, a rocky plateau overlooking my hometown. Several homes were built on neighboring land, but recently the owners have been forced to move out due to safety concerns. The homes have been shifting atop their foundations—nearly three inches every day—causing risk of major water pipes breaking, which would accelerate the sliding. Despite their close proximity to the firm bedrock of Table Rock, these homes aren’t secure.
Jesus compares those who hear and obey His words to those who build their homes on rock (Luke 6:47–48). These homes survive the storms. By contrast, He says homes built without a firm foundation—like people who don’t heed His instruction—cannot weather the torrents.
On many occasions, I’ve been tempted to ignore my conscience when I knew God asked more of me than I had given, thinking my response had been “close enough.” Yet the homes in the shifting foothills nearby have depicted for me that being “close” is nowhere near enough when it comes to obeying Him. To be like those who built their homes on a firm foundation and withstand the storms of life that so often assail us, we must heed the words of our Lord completely.
When students from Southeast Asia met a teacher from North America, the visiting instructor learned a lesson. After giving his class their first multiple-choice test, he was surprised to find many questions left unanswered. While handing back the corrected papers, he suggested that, next time, instead of leaving answers blank they should take a guess. Surprised, one of the students raised their hand and asked, “What if I accidentally get the answer right? I would be implying that I knew the answer when I didn’t.” The student and teacher had a different perspective and practice.
In the days of the New Testament, Jewish and Gentile converts were coming to Christ with perspectives as different as East and West. Before long they were disagreeing over matters as diverse as worship days and what a Christ follower is free to eat or drink. The apostle Paul urged them to remember an important fact: None of us is in a position to know or judge the heart of another.
For the sake of harmony with fellow believers, God urges us to realize that we are all accountable to our Lord, to act according to His Word and our conscience. However, He alone is in a position to judge the attitudes of our heart (Rom. 14:4–7).
Recently I read about a private investigator in the US who would knock on a door, show his badge to whoever answered, and say, “I guess we don’t have to tell you why we’re here.” Many times, the person would look stunned and say, “How did you find out?” then go on to describe an undiscovered criminal act committed long ago. Writing in Smithsonian magazine, Ron Rosenbaum described the reaction as “an opening for the primal force of conscience, the telltale heart’s internal monologue.”
After Ffyona Campbell became famous as the first woman to walk around the world, her joy was short-lived. Despite the adulation she received, something troubled her. Guilt overtook her and pushed her to the brink of a nervous breakdown.
When Sha’Ri Eggum was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, doctors told her that only a bone marrow transplant from a blood relative could save her life. Complicating matters, Eggum, 32, was adopted and didn’t know anything about her biological family. But a private investigator tracked down her brother, Mike Ford, who was a perfect match. Today, Eggum’s leukemia is in remission. Ford was the right person for the right moment.
Through the centuries, some of God's servants have faced the possibility of an agonizing death unless they renounced their faith. They knew that God could deliver them, but they also knew that in keeping with His own purposes He might not answer their pleas for supernatural help.
In his book Illustrations of Bible Truth, H. A. Ironside tells about a man who was getting ready to attend a banquet. He wanted to put on a white shirt he had worn on a previous occasion, so he was inspecting it carefully to see if it was too dirty. His wife noticed what he was doing and called out, "Remember, dear, if it's doubtful, don't." The issue was settled. The man threw the shirt into the laundry hamper.
At certain times in life we may feel insignificant and useless. Surrounded by people with greater talent than ours, we are tempted in our weak moments just to settle back and let somebody else do the work. We reason that what we have to offer won't make much difference anyway.