Stability in a Topsy Turvy World
by Joseph Franks
All around us, there are individuals who seem to have it together. However, the key word in the previous sentence is seem.
If we could secretly spy on them, like the audience of “The Truman Show” we would see their dysfunctional lives. We would see their world is not so picturesque or idyllic as we initially thought.
In addition, if we could interview their spouse and children, we would quickly uncover their many personal and familial issues.
Then, if we could converse with these “got-it-together” individuals, while they were under a truth serum and experiencing a moment of unguarded transparency, we would learn from their own lips of their sinful double-mindedness and depravity.
Yes, from an outsiders perspective, some neighbors seem to have it together. However, everyone has their issues. Everyone has their demons. There is no one who really has it together. All are sinners, who sin, and suffer the consequences of following the counsel of the Evil One.
However, as we look about us, not all sinners are equally unstable. Some sinners do have less chaos than others. Some sinners seem to enjoy greater confidence, structure, order, discipline, direction, and peace than their equally sinful neighbors. Some sinners walk through the storms of life with greater peace. What makes the difference? What is it that makes some sinful neighbors persevere while other sinful neighbors perish?
In Matthew 7, Jesus is wrapping up his “Sermon on the Mount.” He brings his discourse to an end with the following parable:
Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-28)
Notice in Jesus’ parable what these two individuals have in common. They are both home-builders. They are both constructing residences that have some degree of external beauty, and from the outside both houses appear to be substantial. There is one other thing these two individuals have in common, both are predestined to encounter the severe storm that looms over the horizon.
Notice that which differs between these two individuals. One “wisely” builds his house on a rocky foundation. The other “foolishly” chooses to build his house on the sand. Consequently, after the storm pours out its fury, one man will have a domicile that stands, while the other man merely has driftwood.
What is Jesus’ point? What is his big idea? Jesus has before him many who are listening to his sermon. He now drives home the point that listening alone does not suffice:
The wise man whose house endures the storm, he is the one who sits, hears, and does.
The foolish man whose house perishes, he is the one who sits, hears, and ignores.
Friends, how ought we respond to this parable?
Understand our peril
God has predetermined to send storms our way. Our planet is cursed. Our bodies are cursed. Our relationships are cursed. Our neighbors are cursed. Our personal souls are cursed. Storms of destruction are coming our way.
Understand our options
We can either be foolish or wise. We can either listen to God’s counsel and rebel, or listen to God’s counsel and obey. We can either hear and obey God’s Law, or disregard and disobey his divine will.
Understand our position
We are not individuals who always listen and obey. We are not those who consistently sit, hear, understand, and apply God’s counsel. Instead, we are stubborn sinners who listen and rebel. Every single day, in many different ways, we are self-willed people who spurn the counsel of God’s Word. And in the United States, though we hear it loud, clear, and often, we continue disregard and disobey his will. We are fools.
Understand our deserved consequence
The foolish farmer deserves what he sows. The foolish builder deserves foolish consequences. The foolish sinner deserves to die. We, who have preferred the counsel of the ungodly and spurned the wisdom of God, we deserve to lose our house, our life, our all. The storms of God are coming and the wages of sin is death. As fools who do not listen and obey, we deserve to be violently swept away.
Understand the Gospel
Jesus Christ is the solid rock; he is the cornerstone; he is the immovable foundation.
Jesus Christ is the substitutionary contractor. He is the one who hears and obeys. He is the “wise builder” who constructs his house. He custom-selects his stones. He then orders his stones in his house according to his infinite wisdom. And the quality of his house is legendary. He is the one who builds homes that stand in the midst of storms. Jesus is the Chief Builder who constructs houses that persevere to the end.
Understand the Grace of the Law
Knowing that we are secure due to the performance of Jesus Christ, we get the daily privilege of honoring him by sitting, hearing, understanding, and obeying his Word. Through his Word and Spirit, we get the privilege of living like our Savior. Fruited by the Spirit, we progressively exude love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Because Jesus is our foundation and builder, we get to manifest a more fixed and stable reality. We get to enjoy more faithfulness. And because this is what we desire, what will we do?
- We will open the Bible and read.
- We will gather with friends and read.
- We will go to the Spirit and pray for understanding.
- We will go to the Spirit and pray for godly affection.
- We will go to the Spirit and pray for godly action — obedience.
- We will go to the Spirit and apply the Gospel — again and again — as we prove to be fools.
Fellow saints, built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ, let us sit, hear, understand, and do. Let us put the Word of God into practice, but let us do so only after seeing God’s Law, seeing our sin, and engaging in Gospel repentance. Then, let us enjoy the fruits of obedience as we meditate on God’s Word and walk through the storms of life. Jesus is the Wonderful Counselor, and he offers undeserved stability to sinners in a topsy turvy world.