Everybody Builds a House

Daily Devotion – April 4, 2020

Matthew 7:24–27

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

Jesus tells us a story about house building. It’s one of those stories where it’s really two stories side by side. Robert Stein is the professor of Hermeneutics at Southwestern University and he says when you get a parable like this in one of Jesus’ teachings, the best way to understand it is to look at where those two stories have similarities, and then where’s the variable? Because when you find the variable, that’s the hinge that the whole story turns on.

So when you read both stories of both houses you see the exact same things in both stories. Both the wise and the foolish build a house.

This detail does not vary. It’s not optional. To understand this detail, you can replace the word house with character, or soul, or life; because Jesus is saying you’re constructing a life, an eternal soul. And the materials that you construct it out of are the choices that you make. We tend to get distracted from that because we think about the circumstances of our lives. But the circumstances are very finite, they come and they go and in the long run they don’t really matter. What does matter about you is your soul. That will matter until eternity. And you’re constructing it every day, good or bad, deliberately or casually, with wise choices or foolish choices. Every time you choose, you’re building an eternal house. It’s going to last forever.

The Bible says God’s very interested in the house that you’re building. And this metaphor is used a number of times. Paul writes to the church at Corinth. He puts it like this:

“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,  each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-13

What we do, the good deeds that result from the foundation we are building on are a result of digging deep and actually doing the things Jesus said we are to do. To forgive one another, to show grace to people, to confess our sins to each other and make retribution for the things we have done wrong. To trust Jesus for the promises He has made, to encourage each other with the truth of God’s word and most of all to love people the way God loves us. We are all building a house. The fact is that God has made a foundation available that we can build upon that will not fail and He has given us the tools to build something wonderful but the choices we make determine the materials we are building with. Build your house on the foundation of yourself and your own selfishness and greed, spend your time satisfying your own selfish desires and you will have built a house that is going to fall. Jesus makes the choices very simple.

We are all building a house.

 

 

 



The Deception of Hearing Only

Matthew 7:24–27

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

One of the people who was impressed by the Sermon on the Mount was Jesus’ half-brother James. James was not yet a believer when Jesus delivered this sermon, as a matter of fact he and the rest of his brothers thought Jesus might have lost touch with reality. They suspected that Jesus was crazy and did not become believers until after the resurrection. Think about it… what would your brother have to do to convince you that he was the son of God? At one point the gospels record that Jesus’ family tried to pull off an intervention and take Jesus home.

But because of the resurrection his brothers believed. James and Simeon and Jude were listed as believers and according to historians all were martyred for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bible scholars tell us that James, who became the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was likely an eye witness of the Sermon on the Mount because the book he wrote, the book of James is actually taken from, or a parallel teaching of the greatest sermon ever given. Yes, he could have used Matthew’s notes about the sermon or one of the other eye witness accounts but because of the nuances and specific insights James brings, many theologians conclude that James was there, perhaps as a sceptic, listening to his older brother teach the people.

When Jesus says to the people, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”  James responds with “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22  

James does not quote Jesus’ teaching but he takes the theme of Jesus’ teaching and he places it into the context of the issues and problems we face every day. James has been described as being very practical.

James also had an illustration for what it would be like to hear the words of Jesus and not do anything about them. He said it would be like looking in a mirror and seeing all kinds of problems that need attention and then walking away without doing anything about them. Ever leave the house without combing your hair? Ever forget to shave? Ever see something that needed fixing and then forget to fix it? No. We don’t do that in our day and age, unless you are in elementary school. But how often do we see the things in our life that need to be fixed, huge foundational issues… but we walk away and forget them. Jesus said a storm is coming. James said don’t think it is strange when a fiery trial comes your way to test you. What is it in your life that is coming to test your foundation? Don’t be deceived by complacency, only those things built on Christ will stand.

 

 



Doing

Matthew 7:24–27
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.

At the end of the greatest sermon ever given, Jesus summed up his message with (I’ll give you Bob’s paraphrase) “You’ve heard what I said now don’t be stupid.”

Jesus actually illustrated it in much nicer terms but the result is the same; if you don’t do what Jesus says you are being foolish. How foolish? Wow!

The parable of two houses is perhaps the greatest metaphor ever used. It connected with believers and unbelievers alike in Jesus’ day and it is still connecting with people from every walk of life today.

It is a simple story that everyone can relate to and understand. Everyone can agree with the importance of building something on a foundation that will last. But Jesus’ illustration also has a life of its own because the simple story of two houses is also a metaphor for life. We are all building a house – a life, a soul, a character – and we will all face storms in this life that have the capacity to destroy what we have built. And the ultimate storm will be the judgment of God when our works will be on trial before Jesus Himself and everything that we have done in life will be examined to see if it was built upon the proper foundation.

So Jesus preaches the Sermon on the Mount and then concludes with a sermon within a sermon within an illustration. How cool is that? And 2000 years later we are still trying to unpack all that was said that day and to understand that just understanding it is not enough… we have to do what Jesus says. Doing is what the parable is all about.

In these daily devotions, we will be examining the foundational truths that Jesus is calling us to do, not just hear. He speaks to unbelievers and to believers. If you are an unbeliever Jesus says you can hear his words of life and respond by believing, trusting, making Him your personal savior. If you are a believer you can hear his words and do them, live them, share them with others. In doing so you are building a house that will stand the storms that are going to come, you are in fact being wise. Fail to do them and you are building something that will not stand.

 




Daily Devotions 2020