Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 7:26a “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth
them not,. . .”
Regarding Jesus’ words, hearing is dangerous if not accompanied by doing. Many hearers are forgetful. A conversation in the foyer after church makes them forget a whole sermon. To them, words are mere sounds, not life-changing edicts.
Matt. 7:26b “. . .shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house
upon the sand:”
People who “hear and do” Jesus’ words are wise, building their lives on a solid foundation (v. 25). People who “hear but don’t do” are foolish, building on unstable, shifting sand. The latter rarely consciously decide to pick a bad foundation. They are rather usually haphazard, simply taking no thought about life’s foundation.
People often mindlessly make no plans for the distant future. Children play at building houses. Sadly, many adults do, too. They play at religion, never taking it seriously. Friend, wake up, smell the coffee, take a dose of reality. Forever is not temporary. Eternity lasts a long time, and is worth time spent preparing for it. Let’s take a few minutes now to examine ourselves. What kind of life are we building?
Are we building a store? Is our life invested totally in making money? Some spend more time in the Wall Street Journal, money magazines, and Stock Market reports than in Bible reading, prayer, and church attendance combined. We put a Bible under Grandpa Marshall’s dead hands. Is anyone buried holding business journals? Probably not, for in the final analysis, they are sand, and don’t help much.
Are we building a recreation hall? Life’s pressures, if mishandled, can make a mind want to be consumed with pleasure. When we would rather play than pray, we start spending more Lord’s Days out of church than in church. It is easy to be more concerned with hungering after protein supplements and thirsting for Gatorade than with hungering and thirsting after righteousness. People consumed with fun are not interested in holiness. Their passion is to build, not a house where they can serve God, but a recreation hall where they can sit in their recliner and enjoy themselves. Fun is definitely fun, but sand. It will not endure life’s rough handling.
Are we building a private clubhouse? Do our activities involve only a party of three (me, myself, and I) or at most me, my four, and no more? The Great Commission and its call to consider the plight of others can easily become a far distant whisper in the back recesses of our mind. Self can easily become our central focus.
I lived for myself, I thought for myself,
For myself and none beside.
Just as if Jesus had never lived,
Just as if Jesus had never died (Vigeveno).
Self always seeks to be the sum total of all we do. It wants to control all our outlook, to make us seek to please ourselves above God, others, and all else. Self wants to be the king of our lives, but its egocentric throne is set on sinking sand.
Are we building a prison? Are we dabbling in things which could become a habit, an addiction? Alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, gambling–be careful. The cable connecting our computer to the internet can easily become a snake poisoning us with pornography. Sin is enjoyable for a while, but in its sand a jailer is hiding.
Are we building a school? Learning is fun. This world’s knowledge and information can become all-consuming. Do read, study, and learn from the culture, but don’t base your life on its teachings. They change. I am reading more and more lately about the inevitable demise of teaching evolution in our schools. It seems the theory of evolution is evolving into a fairy tale of evolution. Some publishers are refusing to put evolution in new school textbooks. The bad news is, we who believe in creation took a century of abuse over a theory proving to be a figment of someone’s imagination; the good news is, we are no longer a monkey’s uncle. This world’s wisdom is fascinating, but sand, lacking stability to stand the test of time.
Are we building a theater? Are we acting, playing a part? The very people who feel safe, who go to church and help others, who help lay the foundation on which others are building for heaven, can lay for themselves no foundation. Dear church attenders, are we doing foundation work, practicing what we preach? A.W. Pink tells of Francis Spira, who in the seventeenth century died in an agony of soul. He knew Scripture, taught others the faith, and set himself up as an example for others, but had behind the scenes lived a life of sin. Even before he died, he felt the fires of God’s wrath burning in his soul. Among his dying words were, “The judgment of God hath overtaken me.” False religion is false not only because it is false, but also because it has no lasting value. In the end it is sand, leading to destruction.
Are we building a tent? Many build their lives on temporary dreams, and change directions based on the fleeting fashions of today. How many of us are still pursuing the same goals we pursued five, ten, twenty years ago? What has become of the things we desperately wanted? Some we missed, yet we scarcely remember them, though back then we thought we could not live without them. Some we won, but they did not turn out to be as satisfying as we thought they would be. Life is often like a tent, we set up camp around a dream, hold it overnight, and then pull up stakes the next morning in order to press on to something else, to chase another elusive butterfly we think will bring us happiness. But again, we see a faint sign in the distance, thinking it says contentment, only to learn upon closer examination that it says counterfeit. Tents are fun for a night, but sand, not able to endure a lifetime.
Are we building a temple? Basing all on living for Jesus is the only foundation that lasts. Everything else is sand. The Baptist preacher Edward Mote said it right in my Grandpa Hill’s favorite song, “On Christ the solid Rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.” Forty-one years ago, at age six, I surrendered my life to Jesus. That continues to be the most important decision of my life. I still live in its echo. Other things come and go, hobbies wax and wane, dreams rise and fall, but living for Christ remains constant, the thread which consistently weaves itself into the warp and woof of my life. Jesus is faithful. Living for Him never disappoints.
The warning in our text is a plea. Jesus never sought to drive people away. He pressed them not to despair, but to Himself. His plea is for us to build always with the storm in mind, to do foundation work now. Waiting till later, till more construction is done or the house is fully built, is too late to worry about the foundation. Think on it now, at the beginning of the rest of our life. Save self much grief.