Let us pray: Dear Savior, teach us today to always build our faith, our hope, our future on You and Your Word of truth. For it alone sustains and uplifts us when all else in life fails. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE MASTER BUILDER!
TEXT: Matthew 7: 15-29
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
“In conclusion.” You hear those words at the end of almost every speech, every presentation, and most sermons. But Jesus never uttered them when He ended a sermon. It’s true. I searched my memory and also various sections of the Gospels, but Christ never concluded by saying: “In conclusion.”! With a tip of my cap to all my English teachers and speech instructors, I find that fact most informative. And why do you suppose Jesus never ended a discussion or sermon that way? Could it be that He knew people automatically let their minds drift when they hear them? Could it be that, like many of you, when someone is winding down you begin to plan out the rest of your day and shift your focus? Or maybe Jesus was just so interesting for His hearers that He didn’t need to rephrase and repeat what He had already said.
Today’s text is basically the conclusion of Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. Matthew devotes 3 chapters to it, although it was much longer since it took a goodly portion of an afternoon to get through the topics our Savior touched upon. He ends this long sermon rather abruptly with a warning to beware of false prophets who look and sound pious and holy on the surface but are anything but. He excoriates them as ferocious wolves and characterizes them as lousy fruit trees that never bear fruit for God’s glory because they are too worried about amassing power and money for themselves. And then Jesus immediately jumps into the imagery of being a foolish builder vs. a wise one. He even uses a “therefore” to end this discussion when He says: “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.”
“These words of mine” refers to the entire Sermon on the Mount. They refer to all of God’s truths concerning our priorities in life, our value system, our ego and how to handle it correctly, our relationships with others and especially with God, what repentance or true humbleness before Him is all about, and how we’re saved. Let’s put it this way: you are only given one life to live. Your life is like your dream home. Everything you say and do in life is a new wall, a new chimney, a new deck or roof or staircase or kitchen floor in that dream home. So, is what you’re doing today going to last the test of time, or will it have to be demolished and trashed at a later date because it wasn’t plumb, level, and strong? Likewise, we need to always pay attention to the home’s foundation. Building on swamp land, on sand dunes, mud, or just in a flood plain may be cheaper up front, but at some point the hurricane or monsoon rains will arrive and wash everything away. So, the basic point is: always build on rock and anchor your house deeply to it!
All this is a metaphor for our lives as Christians. So, let’s rehash an overview of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. What “Builder’s” truths does it contain? After laying out the “Beatitudes” which are snippets of what being blest by God means and how they are attained, Jesus tells us to be “salt and light.” We are to preserve and protect souls around us by clinging to Him in faith and then let the light of His forgiving love shine forth in our lives. Secondly, He reminds us that all the commandments are sacred and if we break one we literally break them all because we’ve destroyed perfection in our lives. But then, He reminds us that only God is perfect and since Christ is God’s Son, His perfection is transferred to us through humble faith. Thirdly, He tells us that murder is a sin against God’s gift of life, but so is hatred. In fact, hatred is emotional suicide of our own souls, isn’t it? Fourthly, misusing human sexuality disrespects your own body which is God’s creation. It also hardens your conscience to what true love really is. Fifthly, use your own good name and the words associated with it, whatever you say, to build up instead of tear down. Do this even to the point of loving your enemies and praying for those who act in an evil fashion against you. Jesus goes on to list various others avenues for personal growth of your soul and spirit, of constructing a lasting dream house out of your life. And He includes in His list: “Do not worry.” Yes, worrying about food, money, job, health, emotional upset—you name it; well, worry gets us nowhere. It destroys faith and trust in Him and His goodness. It discounts or ignores His many daily blessings. And most of all it disrespects His tremendous love for us that drove Him to the cross and out of the tomb to pay for our disrespect to God. Worry, if you boil it down, says: “God’s not strong enough and doesn’t care about me enough to handle and/or help me cope with my life.” That attitude mocks the cross, thus worry can end up destroying the soul.
All these issues, truths about life, are on His mind when Jesus ends with His warning to build on rock ledge instead of on sand. Because no matter what meteorologists say, “The rain will come down, the streams will rise, the winds will blow, and the house will then fall with a great crash!” Of course, Christ is the Rock of our Salvation, the Rock of all ages, who hides us in His enveloping arms of love. So, when we focus on that fact and live it, life holds no fear, does it?
It’s intriguing how the massive crowd reacted when Christ finished. We’re told they were bewildered and “marveled” at the gripping nature of His teachings. They literally were open-mouthed. He didn’t give them old bromides and platitudes about God stuff. No, He struck deeply into their conscience and stirred their souls. So, today, the question is: what about you? Are you and sand builder or a rock builder? Likewise, since your time of grace is not up (you’re sitting here!) there still is time to hear and act and build a house that neither you nor Jesus will ever be ashamed of. Amen