Wise Man, Foolish Man

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”  Matthew 7:24–27

I remember singing the song “The Wise Man Built His House Upon The Rock” as a child, pounding my little fists together to illustrate the building of the houses, waving my hands and wiggling my fingers to illustrate the rain, raising my flattened hands to illustrate the rising floods and clapping my hands together to illustrate the crashing of the foolish man’s house falling down. 

As a child I didn’t really understand the lesson Jesus was trying to impress upon his listeners as he concluded his teaching there on the grassy mountainside, it was just a fun song to sing for me, but Jesus was sending a serious warning that day through the simple comparison of the wise and foolish builders; there are serious consequences if you try and build your spiritual life on a foundation other than one that’s in harmony with his teaching. 

Jesus had begun his sermon by listing a series of blessings that become ours when we fully enter into the process of the plan of salvation, he continued by declaring that we’re his witnesses to the world for the salvation he’s provided, he then declared that he had not come to destroy the law and that it would stand till all is fulfilled, after that he took a great deal of time to illustrate how the law is far bigger than many legalists would interpret it to be and called us to enter into a life fully keeping the law and living in the blessing of the love it teaches us to have. After that he taught about the blessing of praying, the danger of relying on wealth, and the evil of judging. Then he ended by assuring us that God hears and answers our prayers of faith, reminded us of the Golden Rule, warned us about false teachers, and admonished us to build our lives on his teachings. 

In the conclusion to his sermon Jesus twice warns that there are dire consequences to trying to do things differently than he has taught. In the parable of the two gates he warns that choosing  the wide gate and easy path will lead to destruction, and in our focus text he tells us that the result of building on any foundation other than his word is destruction as well. 

I don’t know about the rest of you but I find it very tempting to try and come up with reasons for excusing myself from following some of the lessons Jesus has taught. Sometimes I tell myself that I’m working my way by small steps toward the standard he’s set, and other times I try to use logic and reason to reduce the requirement or give myself an exception.

Jesus doesn’t give us any room for this self deception. Disobedience to his teaching is to poison ourselves spiritually and it will result in death and destruction. 

Jesus is calling us to life.  The Sermon on the Mount tells us how we can find life and truly live. That life is found in Jesus and we abide in that life when we accept his teachings and obey them. The choice he gives us is clear and so is his call. Come to me, he says. Choose life. 

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