The close of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus had just finished laying down the Christian constitution, telling us so much of how we are to live and relate to others. There were many hard teachings in there about generosity, forgiveness, judgment, prayer and anger. He gave us a very hard path to take. It ain’t easy following in the words and steps of Jesus Christ. Jesus knew this, and finished his most famous sermon with this last bit of wisdom.
Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. The area of Palestine is in a very dry climate for much of the year. When heavy rains come to an area with a dry climate, the ground often cannot absorb the water, resulting in large, violent rivers. Jesus has given us in His Sermon on the Mount a foundation of rock. If we build our lives on that foundation of rock, the going will be hard. Digging into rock is not easy. Loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, seeking peace instead of violence, being generous, not judging others, and living by the golden rule are hard things to do. Everyone around us will not always cooperate with our desire to do the right things and live the right way. We will be tested.
But if we commit ourselves to loving Jesus, following his hard path, and do the right things instead of the easy things, we will have built our lives and grounded our souls in a strong foundation of rock. The trials, tribulations, tests, and suffering will come to us, but we will be able to hold firm through them because we have grounded our lives on a foundation that can’t be moved.
But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash. Here’s the picture – Palestine has many rivers. But it also has a dry climate. By the end of a long, dry summer, many of the rivers of Palestine have dried up and left just a soft, sandy riverbed. Many a man would come through the area looking for a place to build his house, and find a nice, easy, soft piece of earth and start digging to build his house. It’s much easier digging into soft sand than hard rock, right? Problem is, when the September rains came, these houses would just get washed away. Of course they did, they had a foundation of sand. And – they were right in the middle of the river!!
So why do we prefer to build our lives on foundations of sand, which will be washed away, instead of on rock, which can stand strong through the strongest storms. For one thing, we are lazy. We always look for the path of least resistance. Instead of loving our enemies, it’s much easier to just stay angry with them, or ignore them and pretend they don’t exist, or try to work against them and knock them down. After all, their our enemies. It’s much more difficult to reach out, repair relationships, see another point of view. It’s always easier to build a wall than to build a bridge. You can build a wall just by stacking bricks. A bridge takes careful engineering, thought, time and money.
We also are very short-sighted. We don’t think of the long term consequences. Like the man who builds his house on the sandy riverbed, we don’t think about the consequences of our decisions six months from now. Sometimes, I don’t contemplate six minutes from now. But the hard (or easy) decisions we make now need to be made with a longer term view. For me, one example is drinking. It’s a problem for me. Always has been, always will be. I could take a drink today, all would be fine. But six months or a year from now, the consequences of that easy decision will be clear (again).
I could choose to look at porn. That’s an easy thing to do. It’s even socially acceptable these days. Everybody does it, don’t they? But look at the amount of time spent by some men (and women) looking at porn. They get sucked into their own hole of being addicted to that rush they get.
Decisions we make at work, at home, in all parts of our lives. We have to keep in mind the foundation we are building our lives on. Is it sandy, or made of stone. Are we going to be able to stand firm in the trials of life, or just get washed away by the rain? “And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.” 1 John 2:17 NLT
““Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, for he taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.”
Matthew 7:24-29 NLT