Summary: Lesson 18 on the Sermon on the Mount. Will you be the wise man or the foolish man?
Fix Your Foundation
Intro. Gregory Elder tells about growing up on the Atlantic Coast. As a child, he loved to make elaborate sand castles. He made entire sand cities some times. But one year, for several days in a row, a group of bullies would come through and smash everything he made. Finally, he came up with an answer. He placed cinder blocks, rocks, and chunks of concrete in the base of his castles and then went on to build his elaborate city. When the local bullies appeared and chased him off, their bare feet suddenly met their match. Foundations can be very important and Jesus, as he concludes the Sermon on the Mount talks about foundations. Many people see the church like those sand castles. Under attack and in danger of being destroyed by secularism, politics, heresies and sin, but they forget that the church is founded on a Rock. It will never be destroyed. Let’s read Jesus’s words. Matt 7:24-29
24 "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: 25 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. 26 Now 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: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall." 28 And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, 29 for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” As we conclude our series on the Sermon on the Mount we have been looking at Quick Sermons for Permanent Fixes. By my count this is lesson 18. Maybe that doesn’t sound like Quick Sermons to you. But we’ve been looking at how to make changes that stick. How to make real decisions that can alter the way we live our lives. Those are permanent fixes. Jesus today talks about how to fix our foundations.
The first thing Jesus says we must do is hear his words. It is difficult to hear him at times. There are so many other voices that compete. When God spoke to the people around Jesus He said, this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him. Several times during the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reminded us that we have heard religious things from other voices, but we need to listen to Him and Him alone. There are so many voices that crowd into our thoughts. Remember that he started with that unusual series of blessings. He called the poor in spirit, the meek, those that mourn blessed. Sometimes I don’t want to hear that. If that’s true then I need to make some changes in my life and that would be hard. Sometimes applause drowns out the words of Jesus. Remember he warned us that if we just wanted to hear people talking about how great we are and how we do so much good stuff. Be careful about that, he said.
But hearing is only the first step. Both the people in this passage heard the words of Jesus. They probably even understood them. We must do more than just hear. Jesus says we must put them into practice. I think here he is addressing people who love the language of religion. They love to listen to hymns and read their Bible. They have beautiful pictures of verses of Scripture done up in nice calligraphy on their walls. They may carry around a stack of sermons on tape. Their library is filled with good Christian books, and they’ve even read some of them. They love to hear the words of Jesus, but their practice falls far short. The words don’t penetrate into their actions. They haven’t caused these people to change their lives. They are building on a shaky foundation. Francis Bacon was right when he said, “It’s not what we eat, but what we digest that makes us strong, it is not what we gain, but what we save that makes us rich, not what we read, but what we remember that makes us wise, not what we preach or pray, but what we practice that makes us Christians.”
Jesus tells us that we are light to a dark world and that we should shine brightly. He tells us to keep the commandments, that if we are angry with someone then it is like murder, that if lust after someone it is like adultery, that we should not divorce except in cases of unfaithfulness, that we should not swear, not seek revenge, that we should love our enemies, that we must make sure our religion is not just a show for other people. He tells us to pray sincerely and often, that we should not make being rich our god, that we should not worry about the circumstances of life. He will take care of us. He tells us not to judge, but rather to seek him and ask of him what we need. He told us all that, now it is up to us to decide whether or not we will put it into practice for it is those who hear and do that are wise.