Build your life on the strong foundation (7:24–25). Jesus says, “The only way to build a strong foundation is by obeying His words.” He begins His parable in 7:24 with the word “therefore,”which looks back to the entire Sermon on the Mount. In light of His teachings, Jesus says, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wiseman who built his house on the rock.” By using the word “everyone” (cf. 7:26), Jesus reveals that His words are intended for all people for all time. He begins by stating that you must “hear” His words. In order to do so you must expose yourself to the truth. You can do this by reading the Bible, by reading Christian books, by attending worship, by getting involved in classes and small groups, and by meeting with Christian friends who can teach you. While this may sound daunting and tedious, this is what you do in every other area of your life, right? If you want to learn a skill or profession you must seek out the necessary information. An athlete listens to coaches and more experienced players. A craftsman becomes an apprentice to learn from those who are more experienced. A student teacher learns from a teacher in a classroom environment. In each of these cases, it is essential to not just hear the truth but to listen to the truth. Anyone who is married knows that there is a difference. Anyone who has a teenager knows that there is a difference between hearing and listening. The key to listening is to interact with the one doing the speaking. The best listeners I know are people who ask lots of clarifying questions such as: “What do you mean?” “Are you saying…?” “Can you explain that further?” These questions show that a person is listening. We should ask clarifying questions when interacting with Christ’s words. Is God warning me of something? Do I need to repent? Is this a promise that I can claim or a command I need to obey?
Jesus urges you to hear His words, but He doesn’t stop there. He goes on to say that you must act upon His words. If you are going to build on a solid foundation you must actually DO what Jesus wants you to do. Hearing His words is not enough. You are building your life on His words ONLY as you obey them (see Jas 1:22). Let me explain: I have heard that vegetables are good for you. I believe this is true. I have even prayed that the Lord would change my taste buds and give me a desire for vegetables. Yet, I rarely obey what I know to be true by eating veggies. Oh, that analogy doesn’t work for you? How about this: Do you floss on a daily basis? Why not? You know how to floss, right? You’ve seen the charts at the dentist’s office and you’ve purchased your top-of-the-line, mint-flavored floss in its fancy holder, right? You make a commitment that you will floss every day. But after a week you stop flossing. You don’t floss because you don’t really believe that your teeth will rot and fall out.
In the same way, you can hear all of Jesus’ words and know them like the back of your hand, but if you don’t do what He says, you aren’t building on the right foundation. Fortunately, you are likely seeking to obey Jesus’ teaching. You have made a commitment to obey His words. Even though your marriage is a mess and others encourage you to find happiness and divorce your spouse, you remain faithful to your spouse and to the Lord. When your finances have been especially tight and you’ve been tempted to not give to the Lord, instead you trust the Lord and give in obedience. In an impure world that glorifies immorality, you choose to abstain on a daily basis. When your children challenge your parental authority, you continue to persevere, loving them and sharing God’s Word with them. When you have been the victim of gossip and slander and your flesh rises up to take revenge, you choose to forgive. When there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day, you still find a way to serve Christ’s church and people in your community.
In 7:25, you will discover why it’s so critical to build on the strong foundation. Jesus says, “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” Jesus doesn’t pull any punches. Just look at the word “and” in 7:25. Jesus does not say “if the rain falls” or “if the floods come” or “if the winds blow.” He says, “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house” (italics mine). Jesus tells you straight-up that storms will come and you will not be spared! And if you’ve walked with Christ for any length of time, you’ve observed that people who hear and do the words of Jesus have the very same crises in their lives that people have who don’t do His words. Obedience to Christ does not mean you will not get rained on. Anyone who tells you that the Christian life is all sunny days has lied to you. Nevertheless, the storms are what test us. Living in the sunshine of life doesn’t tell us much about ourselves. Anybody can build a house that will stand firm when the sun is shining and the wind is still. It is the storms that reveal the strength of your foundation. When you build on the rock you must expect storms, because only storms can show your wisdom to the world around you.
- Sometimes the storm roars in as you are pounded by sickness or the fear of death. Perhaps you will learn that you have cancer or another life-threatening disease. Maybe a loved one will suddenly pass away. You may develop a nagging injury that refuses to heal. Maybe you’re beginning to feel your age and this discourages you to no end. Times like these reveal the foundations of your life.
- Sometimes the storm is a crushing personal loss. You may lose a job that not only provides income but also provides you with self-esteem and personal security. Your carefully built stock portfolio suddenly destroyed can be like a tornado roaring through the comfortable life you have built. When you realize that you haven’t built up the security you counted on, everything in your life can come tumbling down and you see exposed the faulty foundations of your life.
- In many cases, your foundation can be tested by prosperity. Prosperity comes like a gentle spring rain. At first you’re convinced it will make your life green and healthy. But when prosperity keeps coming, it can develop into a large destructive force as damaging as a storm. What you gain, not what you lose, often serves as the supreme test of your foundation. More men and women have been knocked off their spiritual foundation by great wealth than by great reversal
When personal storms come many lives will be destroyed and left in shambles. Most people don’t find the narrow gate (7:13–14). Most people don’t build on the foundation of Christ’s words. But if you construct your life according to Christ’s building codes you will not be disappointed. While obedience to Jesus’ words is not a protection from the troubles; it is a protection in the troubles. Yes, you may lose some windows and the house of your life may be shaken but it will not collapse and be swept away. I want to encourage you: All the time that you have invested in laying your biblical foundation will pay off. If you haven’t already seen the results and benefits, I can assure you that one day you will. Building on the rock is the best flood insurance you can invest in. Storms will come and go. You are either in a trial, coming out of a trial, or entering into a trial. Nevertheless, if you’ve built your life on the foundation of Christ, you have nothing to fear. A good storm will demonstrate the stability of your foundation.