Songs are a great way of remembering things, aren’t they? For instance, Jenny remembers little of her GCSE physics but still knows Snell’s Law after having learnt it to the tune of Postman Pat whilst in school. Similarly, as a child I learnt that “the wise man built his house upon a rock“. However, as a child I didn’t learn how to build my house upon a rock. Nor did I know how important it would be when (not if) the storms came.
Today’s passage explains to us some ways in which we can “dig deep” and set the foundations of our lives in our Lord, our rock (Ps 18:2). Jesus says, “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them” builds their foundations well. How does this work in practice?
Come to Him: the presence of God is absolutely vital to our existence. AW Tozer wrote, “I want the presence of God Himself, or I don’t want anything at all to do with religion”. The presence of God is our lifeblood. And Jesus created us to draw close to Him, and to do so in family. Over the past weeks there’s been an increasing sense of God’s presence in our Sunday meetings. In hard times it’s easy to retreat from church life and feel like an outsider. But God loves you as His child and, just as he left the 99 sheep to find the lost one, He won’t leave you behind.
Hear His words: you’ll read, and listen to, thousands of words today: some neutral; some potentially damaging, and some full of life. Take time each day to study God’s word, and you’ll be like “a tree planted by streams of water” (Ps 1).
Put them into practice: in Luke 6:37-45, Jesus describes a few ways we can put His word into action:
- Be forgiving (6:37) – “judge not” – the verse is often taken out of context and used by people who don’t want their actions called into question. But you don’t need to be a Greek scholar to understand the context: you just need to read on. Be forgiving, not condemnatory; be discerning and watchful, but full of love.
- Be teachable (6:40) – and we will be ever more like Christ.
- Examine yourself (6:41) – allow God to search your heart (Ps 139:23-24), especially before confronting others!
Verse 45 tells us that “the good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good [fruit]”. A hard heart will seek to destroy others; a good heart will seek to build others up and strengthen their faith. (As an aside, life groups are a great way to seek God’s presence, hear His words and put them into practice!)
We see some of this ‘good fruit’ through the story in the next chapter. We see a Roman centurion: a man who has every reason in earthly terms to be proud, but who regards himself as unworthy to be in Jesus’ presence. We see a man who is full of faith, full of humility, and has a grasp of who Jesus is: “a man under authority”. His faith is rewarded and his valued servant is healed.
So, who are the people whose houses have no foundations? The Pharisees are not named in this passage, but they’re alluded to, as “hypocrites” (6:42), “bad fruit” (6:49) and as without faith (7:9). The picture of a ruined house could well point to the destruction of the temple in AD70. Even more importantly, their lives were built on dead religion and were set for ruin.
In conclusion: it’s easy to build a house without proper foundations. Build your house on self-image, and criticism will destroy you. Build your house on unforgiveness, and bitterness will wither you. Build your house in the presence of any other god, and they will eventually fail you. It’s also easy to build a house on seemingly good things: parenthood, a noble profession, even a Christian ministry. But without proper foundations, the house will fall down when the floods come.
So, build your house with foundations rooted deep in faith in Christ. You will be stronger than you could ever be in any other strength, building with eternal consequences.
Maybe you’ve just been through a flood, and you’re surveying the damage. Now’s the time to take stock, dig deep, come into God’s loving presence afresh, be part of a church family, and begin to grow.