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.
In May of 2010, my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee experienced a flood so large that it is estimated to have done more than $1.5 billion in damage. In technical terms the flood was a 1,000 year flood, meaning that it is estimated that a flood this large would only strike once in a thousand years. Many homes and businesses that weren't even in the floodplain (and therefore did not have flood insurance) suffered significant damage. This has temporarily left its mark on the Nashville housing market. When people look at houses in certain parts of town they are careful to ask if the house was flooded. And you better believe that the next time I consider buying a house I will make sure it isn't in the floodplain. But this makes sense right? Now that we have seen with our own eyes how much damage a flood can do to your home, it makes sense that we would want to avoid it.
Christ plays on the same type of thought in today´s parable. He contrasts two different ways people build their homes and the different outcomes. The first way you can build is to dig down and build your house on a solid rock foundation. This will cause your house to be strong and it will be able to withstand all kinds of storms. It may take a little longer to build this way but it will last for a very long time. On the other hand, you could skip all that digging and simply build your house say, in the sand of an old washed out creek bed. Your house will certainly get built faster but it's only a matter of time before a strong enough storm blows through to destroy your home.
We understand that Christ is using a home as a metaphor for our lives. There are two ways to build (or live) your life. You can live your life based on Christ's teaching or you can live your own way. Christ says that if you build your life on His teaching, then your life will be safe and secure. It will weather many storms. It may not be the easiest route but it is the safest and most rewarding. But you could always live life your own way. The problem is that our way of living life doesn't bring the best results. The kind of lives that we build for oursleves have a nasty habit of crumbling around just when we need them most...when the storms of life are raging.
This is a parable that most everyone knows but we don't always think of it in its context. Christ places this parable right at the end of His Sermon on the Mount which sprawls from Matthew 5-7. So this parable is really like the conclusion to His sermon. He is essentially telling people, "Don't merely listen to the Word...do what it says" (James 1:22). So let's take a look at just a few of the themes in Christ's famous sermon. As we do, evaluate whether or not your life is on shaky ground....
- Are you a peacemaker? (Matthew 5:9)
- Do you have lustful eyes? (Matthew 5:27-30)
- Have you divorced your spouse wrongly? (Matthew 5:31-32)
- Are you loving your enemies? (Matthew 5:43-48)
- Do you love money? (Matthew 6:19-24)
Many Christians are building their lives on the sand. For some it is because they have never taken the time to read God's Word. They simply do not know His way of living. For others the problem isn't that they don't know God's Word but that they really don't believe it. They know it says "seek first the kingdom of God and everything else will be added to you," but the kingdom still hasn't made it quite that far up their list (Mathew 6:33). I am sad to say that the majority of lives today are in shambles. People are clearly bearing the weight and the damage of their poor decisions and yet they refuse to change their lives.
How about you? If you are tired of watching everything in your life come tumbling down around you right at the worst possible time? If so, I have some good news for you. We serve a God of second chances. (Joel 2:12-14). It's not too late to begin acting like the wise man. Take a long hard look at God's master plan for your life and start renovating today. And if you need a place to start, try Matthew 5-7.
For further reading...
- Matthew 5-7- Check out the full sermon.