House on the rock
“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.” NIV
Television news reports regularly bring into our living rooms images of the immense devastation that storms can bring – the ruined homes, the scattered possessions, the overwhelmed and distressed survivors, the broken lives, the shattered hopes and dreams. Who can forget, for example, the scenes of mayhem and destruction in New Orleans in August 2005 following Hurricane Katrina? It took years for the city to get back on its feet. Subsequent investigations suggested that if only appropriate measures had been taken earlier, the damage might have been far less.
Jesus drew a spiritual parallel about the storms that we are all familiar with. In Matthew 7, Jesus used a parable about two house builders to illustrate an important point. He said that when we hear His words and put them into practice, we build our lives upon a strong and unshakable foundation. It helps us to be overcomers; it carries us through all the trials and challenges of life. There’s something about fealty to the Lord that sets us upon a sure foundation, for God commits Himself to ensuring that those who build their lives upon His word will always endure. As Psalm 37:23-24 says: “If the LORD delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.”
This parable about the house builders is really about two kinds of Christians and the choices they make – those who hear the Word of God, embrace it and live it out, and those who hear it and then do little about it. It is not our intentions or confessions but our actions that actually count in building a life of significance and purpose. Faith without action is simply empty posturing [James 2:17] that contributes little to building the kind of full and fruitful lives that God earnestly desires we live.
To be sure, building a life on firm foundations takes time, hard work, sacrifice and commitment, but the end result is a life worth living. Of course, there are easier and more convenient foundations to build upon, but in the end, they do not endure. The Gospel message is that everything that is not built on Christ will falter and eventually fall short of God’s great plan for humanity.
Too many Christians live their lives as if there are no storms in life or that somehow they are immune from them simply because they call themselves Christian. We do well to remember that Jesus never promised that there would be no storms; indeed the whole point of His parable was that the storms are real enough and we should wisely prepare for them.
Just as structural engineers regularly examine the foundations of buildings, we should regularly take time to reflect upon the foundations of our own lives. Are we building upon the firm foundation of the Word of God or are we just paying lip service to it? Are there areas in our lives that need to be brought back into line with the Word? Has the Holy Spirit been prompting us to make changes in the way we live while there is yet time, while the storms are still far off?
Better to build now, take heed of the warnings and make corrections if needed than to pick up the pieces later.