“Parade magazine’ carried a story about a little village church in Kalinovka, Russia, where attendance picked up when the minister started offering candy to the peasant children who came. One of the most faithful was a pug-nosed, pugnacious boy who recited the assigned scriptures, pocketed his reward, and then fled to the surrounding fields to munch on it.
The minister took a liking to the boy and persuaded him to attend church school. The boy preferred this over doing household chores, so he went. By offering rewards, the teacher got the boy to memorize the entire books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The boy got a special prize for reciting them nonstop. Yet sixty years later, although he still liked to recite scripture, he did so in contexts that would horrify his old teacher. That prize pupil, who memorized the scriptures, was the communist ruler Nikita Khrushchev.
Had he come to understand and appreciate the truths of the scriptures instead of just memorizing them, how different the outcome might have been. All of the effort to memorize was built on sand. It is interesting that some of the very verses that he memorized said:
Matt 7:24-27 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; and it fell with a great crash.”
We all recognize the tragedy of a person who knows what the scripture says is necessary to wash their sins away and become a Christian. Acts 22:16 “And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on His name.” But the person who claims to have obeyed the Lord and then must be begged to be faithful is even worse off than one who knew little or nothing about the truth. (2 Pet 2:20-22, Heb 10: 25-29)
Let us put into practice what we learn from the word of God. Knowing what God says is useless if we do not put it into practice, and will in fact condemn us – James 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” Is your house built on the rock of obedience or on the sand of disobedience to the word of God?