Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 7:24-27 Introduction
Jesus has spoken of two gates, strait and wide; two ways, broad and narrow; two trees, good and bad. Now He calls attention to two foundations, rock and sand.
Matt. 7:24a “Therefore. . .”
When you see a “therefore” in Scripture, take time to see what it is there for. In light of how disappointing Judgment Day will be for many, the Judge now tells us the kind of life we need to live in order to be well prepared. Judgment Day will entail thorough testing, “therefore” do not neglect the main thing, obedient hearing.
Matt. 7:24b “. . .whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them,. .”
This means Jesus expects His words to be reflected in our works. His truths are to be revealed in our deeds. His words are a light not only to our eyes, but also to our feet. Be informed, plus reformed and transformed. Do what we are hearing.
“For every hearing let there be a doing” (Vaughan). Do not let a sermon stop when it ends. It is not enough to sit through a message and endure it. When the preacher is done, the listener isn’t. The most important part of a sermon is what the hearer does with it. The echo, the response, the after effect, is what matters.
Matt. 7:24c “I will liken him unto a wise man,. . .”
The Old Testament prophets said a wise man did the will of God. Christ claimed the wise ones are those who do His will. This is another reference by Jesus to His own divinity. Christ had no doubt as to the full extent of His own authority. Jesus’ words are the most important words ever spoken. Be wise. Heed them.
Matt. 7:24d “. . .which built his house upon a rock:”
Jesus will now use the erecting of a house to picture construction of a person’s life. Building a house is similar in ways to building a life. Jesus, a carpenter, knew about working on houses. I read on a bumper sticker, “My boss is a Jewish carpenter.” Fortunately, Jesus is a carpenter who knows how to build lives right.
This is good news. In a world falling apart, here is a Person who can provide stability. News release!! Headline!!–the Rock of Ages is still immovable.
In a world of chaos we can have peace and stability if we build our life “upon a rock.” The “rock” here refers to hearing and doing Jesus’ words. If we base our lives on heeding Christ’s words, life’s storms will never destroy our inner edifice.
Notice, the man in our text is not merely pitching a tent. He is involved in a serious undertaking, in constructing a house where he plans to live permanently.
Building a house matters; it is a monumental life-choice. Building a life also has mammoth repercussions. Even as a caterpillar spins its own cocoon, we weave our own lives, and are stuck with what we build, whether we like it or not.
Success or failure, in house and life, depend largely on foundation-work. If a house or life’s base is bad, disaster results. Good foundation-work is essential.
The foundation of a life entails a person’s essential nature, the inmost principles that guide decision-making. What matters most to a person, what do they live for, what is their philosophy of life? These considerations constitute the foundation of an individual’s life. Thus, the question is, how do we get on the right foundation, on the “rock” of our text? Spiritual foundation-work entails at least three things.
First, foundation-work is hidden labor, energy expended in private. Few, if any, other people ever see it. The difference in the two houses of Jesus’ vivid image was underground, out of sight. Foundation-work is rarely glamorous. There is little glory in it. Not many people will ever praise us for private prayer and Bible reading. Foundation-work is usually done where only God sees it. It is labor done solely for the Master’s sake, to enhance our love relationship with Jesus. Success requires internal, behind the scenes, cementing of thought and deed to Jesus’ words.
Second, foundation-work is unpleasant. It is dirty work, requiring us to deal with our own weakness. Jesus, sweating drops of blood while pleading for Father’s will to be done in His life, was doing foundation-work. The rest of us have to deal with our sins. We have to pray for a repentant heart and go through brokenness. If we do not weep over our sin we have no solid ground for rejoicing in forgiveness.
Foundation-work requires us to make sure we are basing everything on God, not us. A Christian laboring in foundation-work is “self-distrustful; when he prays his heart groans before God, yet he fears he does not pray aright, and never rises from his knees contented with himself” (Spurgeon). We feel we never completely arrive. Foundation-work is ongoing. We spend our whole lives conducting spiritual inventory, and praying, “Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart” (PS 26:2 NAS). Jesus, show us how we are underneath, in our foundation.
Third, foundation-work takes time. We have a good foundation only if we take ample time to dig way down deep into God’s Word, to be amply rooted in it. We have to hide in His Word long enough to come to treasure it enough to want to hide it in our hearts (PS 119:11). We want His Word written not only in our Bibles, but also on our hearts. “In humility receive the word implanted” (JM 1:21 NAS).
Time, time, time–foundation-work takes time. Sand-builders are in too big a hurry. They want everything now. Having little patience, they prefer short cuts and quick results, but haste makes waste. Hurry leads to flurry.
Do we feel we’re making slow progress in grace? Don’t give up. Growth is growth, whether fast or slow, and should be appreciated. We often grow by inches, not miles. Be not deterred. “Wait on the Lord” (PS 27:14). “Abide in Him” (1 J 2:28). “In quietness and trust is your strength” (IS 30:15 NAS). “Be still, and know that I am God” (PS 46:10). These verses cry out for an investment of time.
Ponder eternity. It’s going to last a long, long time. A little extra time invested now in preparing for eternity is worth it.
We Americans possibly value time more than any other expendable commodity. We deem our moments as precious. The way we use them tells us much about how serious we are about our spiritual foundation-work.
How do we spend our time? Playing is more fun than praying, tennis courts are more appealing than the courts of the Lord, time at the lake or golf course is more exciting than time in the Bible. Nothing is wrong with these cultural relaxations, unless they take away from God’s time, from spiritual foundation-work.