You’re in a huge crowd of people who’ve come to see, hear, and hopefully interact with Jesus. You’ve heard about Him, and you think He really might be the Messiah, but you’re not entirely sure. He’s been healing people and teaching in synagogues and you just have to see if for yourself.
He begins to teach and as he does, you find yourself a little bit shocked by what He has to say. Blessed are poor? Blessed are you when people hate you? Woe to the rich?! Woe to those when all people speak well of you? (Luke 6:20-26)
This is unlike the teaching you are used to, and it throws you off balance. What exactly is Jesus saying? If He truly is Messiah, what will His kingdom be like? And then, the words that stop you in your tracks:
“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. An when a flood arose the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.” Luke 6:46-49
Even today, in modern American society, these words never cease to stop me in my tracks. Jesus gives an incredible illustration revolving around two men building houses.
One man digs “deep and laid the foundation on the rock,” and one man builds a house, “on the ground without a foundation.” Both experience the stream breaking against the house. One is not shaken because it has been well built, and the other falls immediately in great ruin.
Two houses. Same circumstances. Different results.
The drastically different results are directly tied to the foundations that were laid. One had one on the rock and one had nothing on the ground. The end result is foreshadowed in the setup. Clearly one is solid and one is not. It’s not surprising that that house without a foundation crumbles when tested.
Isn’t it the same for us?
Two options. Same circumstances. Different results.
“He who hears my words and does them,” and, “the one who hears and does not do them.” Instruction is given to all, but one acts on it and one doesn’t, so when the circumstances come, each option yields a dramatically different response.
Take a look at the definition of a couple of the words in this passage:
Lord: supreme in authority, i.e. (as noun) controller; by implication, Master (as a respectful title):—God, Lord, master, Sir.
Do not: the absolute negative
Calling someone “supreme in authority” and then doing the “absolute negative” of what they’ve asked you to do doesn’t make a lot of sense, right? Why do I call Him “Lord” and not do what He tells me to?
The answer to those questions probably varies on any given day, but for me personally, it generally comes down to pride. I just think I know a better way. An easier way. A faster way.
Jesus invites us to abide in Him and tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15), and I convince myself that I can get “enough” in the drive through version of time spent with Him.
God commands us to regularly practice a Sabbath rest, and I figure sleeping in once a week is probably good enough given my busy schedule.
Jesus instructs us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us and I offer my intellectual assent without actually loving or praying.
If we sit down to really evaluate, it’s clear that often we are the foolish man building our house on nothing but ground that will be swept away by the stream. We hear but we do not act, and in doing so, set ourselves up for inevitable failure.
Have you experienced this in your own life? Seen a difference in the way you respond to trial or conflict or hardship based on whether you’ve been actively pursuing the Lord and putting His instruction into practice or only hearing the Word without letting it actually affect or change your behaviors?
Where are you today? Are you hearing God’s instruction and acting on it or are you hearing the Word and ignoring the step of obedience it requires? Are you laying a strong foundation?
The good news is that the difference between the two men in this parable isn’t something extraordinary or insurmountable – it’s just one making a wise choice to lay a strong foundation and one skipping a foundation entirely.
We have the same two choices and are given the same opportunity. We have all the resources we need to lay a strong foundation and every day we are faced with a choice to merely listen to God’s Word or to listen to and obey God’s Word. If yesterday was a day you only listened, today can be the day you obey. Even if last night you only listened, this morning you can act. There’s hope to become a wise builder, for each one of us.
So, let’s be the wise builder. Let’s get into God’s Word, hear it and then act on it in obedience. And let’s cheer each other on in the process.