August 18

Building on the Rock, Part 1

Matthew 7:13-27 “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life….

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits…A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit….

“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.”

These three passages are often looked at individually. But let’s take a look at their connections and similarities. One of the first things we see is that there are three sets of two—two gates, two trees, and two foundations. Jesus is not only comparing each element within the pair, but presents them to us in a row so that we can see a bigger picture.

The culmination of the separate small stories—what the earlier stories are leading to—is the story of the two men who build. One can either build foolishly or with wisdom. Happily, the comparisons that precede the reference to the two kinds of men give us some guidance as to how to build wisely, or as Jesus expresses it, how to build on the rock.

When we see and admire someone else’s spiritual building, we sometimes make the mistake of trying in our own mind and strength to build what they have. If you admire their “spiritual building,” it’s usually better to ask them, “How did you build?” When we build in the Spirit, the how is always more important than the what. God is ultimately in charge of what’s being built; we have great responsibility in the how, and how we build will ultimately determine what we build.

First, are you even aware that you are building—every day? You see, even if we don’t realize that we’re building, God and other people see what we are constructing in the spirit. I’m not building, you might say. I’m working, or raising children, or involved in a ministry. You might be doing one or all of those things. But you are also building a spiritual edifice of some kind at the same time. Every day, in all that you do, you are building. God is faithful to make sure that a day is never wasted, and that our activities are never without purpose.

The next few days will help shed light on a few portions of God’s word that provide insight and direction in how to build wisely.

Prayer: Father, help me to realize that I am always building something in the Spirit, especially when I don’t realize I’m doing that. Open my eyes to see the difference between foolishness and wisdom in the building process, and help me to build wisely.