“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 sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” – Matthew 7:24-27
Any builder knows the importance of laying a solid foundation. Consider the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. The secret to the stability of this towering structure lies underground. Before they ever started building upward, workers spent over a year pouring the massive foundation, the sum total of which is 60,000 cubic yards of concrete weighing in over 100,000 tons. Now that’s what I call a sure foundation!
Unlike the architects of the Burj Khalifa, we tend not to give much thought to the foundation of our lives. A time of crisis, however, wakes us up and reveals what we’ve truly built our lives upon. This is what Jesus is pointing out here at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. The noted author, Madeline L’Engle, says, “it is a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet and what is sand.” I’ve thought about these insightful words a lot lately. These unsettling days in our world are yanking the props from under us and exposing what is 100% sand.
Jesus longs for His followers to experience two things:
1) A life built on a solid foundation. – Notice that Jesus isn’t simply saying, “build your life on the rock.” He’s emphasizing how we build our lives on the rock. It’s a subtle nuance, but it’s so important in truly understanding these verses.
We build our lives on the rock not by simply hearing Jesus’ message, nor by being familiar with His teachings, but by seeking to apply Biblical wisdom in our everyday life and relationships. Numerous people listened to the Sermon on the Mount that day. The true test on whether or not they actually heard Jesus was what they did with His words now that the message was over.
The same goes for us. Do we seek to live out what we read in our devotionals? Are we genuinely attempting to put His words into action throughout the rest of our week? James, the half-brother of Jesus, sums it up nicely when He says, “do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
2) Strength in the middle of any storm. – Followers of Jesus are not exempt from experiencing storms. Jesus seems to imply it’s not if the storms will come, but a matter of when.
Two men. Two houses. One massive storm. One house stands strong and one is completely swept away. What makes the difference? One man sought to follow and obey Jesus in his daily life. It’s like exercising a muscle, or a builder laying brick upon brick day after day. Consistent, practical obedience helps develop rock–solid strength so we stand strong right smack dab in the crises of life. This inner fortitude is available to all genuine followers of Jesus and is infinitely greater than anything we can muster on our own. It’s the strength of Jesus Himself who enables us to prevail.
What is one way you can seek to practically obey Jesus today? If you’re currently in the middle of the storm, confess that you need His strength to help you endure.
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director of RFTH