Today we embark on a new series. This series is aimed at helping you figure out where you are in your spiritual walk. For some, it will be back to the basics; for others, it may be new material. If it’s basic for you, make it your goal to find someone for whom it is new and pass it on. If what we cover in this series is new to you, take it to heart, consider carefully and act on what needs acting on. Whether new material or old, make the most of it by pulling out your Bible and reading along. May God bless us as we journey…
What kind of builder do you want to be?
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus describes two kinds of builders: one wise, one foolish. Each hears Jesus’ words, but only one acts on them. For his action, the wise builder is rewarded with a house that stands the test of a great storm because his is one that is founded on the rock. For his inaction, the foolish builder’s house is destroyed because its foundation is nothing but sand. Jesus is an equal opportunity teacher. Anyone can listen and anyone can benefit. The choice is yours and yours alone as to whether or not you will choose to apply His teachings and thus be a wise builder, or walk away to build your life on a foundation of sand.
It is important to note that the sincerity of the builder matters not one whit. The foolish builder didn’t build thinking to himself about what a dumb idea this was. No doubt, he built sincerely believing that all would be okay despite what he’d been told. We are in danger of doing the same thing. Today, Jesus’ words come in the form of the Bible and the storm of judgment day is imminent for all. We build our lives on His word and stand through the storm, or walk away to build on a false and insecure foundation, sincerely believing that all will be okay. Let’s look at some of the sandy foundations we sometimes choose. As we do so, take an honest inventory of your life. Is it built on one of these shaky foundations?
We live in a society that says you should follow your heart. “Your heart will never mislead you,” they say. Jesus’ words say otherwise. Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25 tell us “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” This one is so important, God chose to put it in twice. We, as mere men (and women), cannot see the end of the road. Just like we cannot see what lies over the crest of the hill, we cannot see that living against Jesus’ words ends in spiritual death. We have to trust Him and not ourselves. (Note: for more on this, read Melissa Hite’s article “Follow Your Heart… or Not?“)
Not only does our society say to follow your heart, it also says there isn’t anything more important than how much money you make and what you have. What society says is starting to change away from this, but what society does is leading further and further to making money and possessions number one. In Luke 12:15-21, Jesus tells the story of a rich man. This is a man who has well beyond what he needs—so much so that he must build bigger barns. In today’s vernacular, he’s gotta get a bigger house and a bigger garage for his stuff. Ultimately, God calls him a fool, says he’s going to die that night and basically points out that his stuff isn’t going to go with him. The point Jesus made in verse 15 is driven home: “one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
For us today, making money your foundation is a sneaky thing to catch because it has become less than P.C. Today, it looks like working on Sundays when you know you should be at worship. It looks like skimping on your weekly contribution so you can go out to dinner after services. It looks like choosing a job where you know the environment is ungodly but the pay is good. This is a heart condition that has no relation to your bank account balance. The pursuit of wealth over the pursuit of God can be done by poor just as easily as rich—sometimes more easily.
Does it seem strange to see “traditions” as a possible foundation? We think of the word “traditions” as being nearly exclusively linked with holidays. There are religious traditions, too though. We are raised this way, or raised that way. There are ideas we hold simply because we always have done. In Mark 7:1-13, Jesus is dealing with the Pharisees. You may recall that the Pharisees were part of the religious rulers of the day. They were a very devout group who went to religious services three times daily. In this encounter, some of the Pharisees’ traditions are discussed. The Pharisees believe that one should wash his/her hands after being in the market place and they are upset that Jesus and His disciples are not following this tradition. (Note: we’re not talking about the kind of washing you and I do before a meal. This is more like a cootie cleansing to get the Samaritan and Gentile “filth” off. Not sharing in the prejudice, Jesus also doesn’t share in the cleansing.) First, Jesus applies Isaiah’s prophesy to them and essentially tells them that their thrice daily service is useless because their hearts are not in it and their teachings are merely of man rather than God. Then Jesus calls them down for some of their other traditions. He brings up corban, a practice under which you give your money to the religious leaders and they then care of the elderly, etc. The problem with this practice is in verse 13: “making the word of God of no effect through your tradition…” They were choosing to follow their tradition rather than God’s word which commands us to honor our parents.
Today, this is really a major false foundation in the world. We are taught many, many things in our school systems, on the television, in the news media and a myriad of other sources that simply don’t match up with God’s word… but we follow it anyway, not knowing any better because we don’t know God’s word. When we have the choice to follow what we’ve always believed or to follow what the Bible says, we must choose to leave behind what falsehood may be in our personal traditions and build on the rock that is Jesus’ words.
In the next article, we’ll discuss some more false and sandy foundations. For now, look at these and look at you. Do any of these foundations resemble the one you’re building on?