Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. (Matthew 7:24-26)
When our children were growing up, one of their favorite Bible songs began with the words, “The wise man built his house upon the rock.” Every student of Scripture knows that the lyric was drawn from the words of Jesus Christ in His Sermon on the Mount. In this portion of our Lord’s sermon, He was contrasting true believers from the false. Both look good on the outside, both seem to be living “good” lives, and, to the watching world, both are secure in their faith. But when the storm winds blow, the false believer is exposed, having built his or her life upon the shifting sand of good works and not upon the Rock of truth and grace.
Storm winds, such as the storm of this COVID-19 pandemic, expose our foundation. Jesus spoke of two men who heard the Word of God but responded to it differently. To build on rock is to listen to the Word of God and obey; to build on sand is to listen and forget. The one who obeyed is described as being wise; the other was foolish. This distinction may well remind us of the command given us in James 1:22-25—
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it — he will be blessed in what he does.
How is it with you? Have you been wisely building your life on the words from the solid Rock who is our Redeemer? Remember, storm winds blow upon both the wise and the foolish. The onset of the coronavirus has left no one unaffected. When it finally passes—and it will surely pass at some point in the future—what will the landscape reveal? It will reveal the difference between the wise and the foolish souls . . . those who built their lives on the Rock and those who built on the sand of self.
Remember, “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). God has given us His Word—not to simply read, but to respond to. I frequently tell our congregation that the biblical text we are studying always requires our response—whether that response be praise, prayer, repentance, good deeds—we are to do, not merely hear.
What has your response been during this pandemic? What would those closest to you say about the foundation upon which you have built your life? Is it made of rock or sand? To be sure, the Word of God edifies and encourages, but it also equips us to weather any storm that comes our way. And when I say “weather,” I do not mean simply survive, but rather, we are to thrive in the storm, because we have built our entire existence upon the Rock of Jesus Christ.
You are in my prayers and in my heart.
Purpose and Passion,