Stubborn Foolishness

Matthew 7:24-27

“What are you building?” Little children ask that question when they play with Legos. I’m sure I asked it when I used to play with my Lincoln Logs. What are you building? I’ve heard members ask other members that question as new houses were built – or old houses got a new look. What are you building? I’m sure our great-grandmas and grandpas were asked that question when they built this sanctuary. 

So let me now ask you: what are you building? And no, I’m not talking about a new house, new barn, or storage bin.Those building projects come and go. Know for certain that not one of those projects will last for all time! No, I’m talking about the real building projects in life: your heart, your life, your soul? What are you building?

We don’t always think about those critical building projects as we ought. You might even think that you are in a “holding pattern” in life: I am who I am. I know what I know. I think what I think. Nothing being built here! If you think that way, think again! This morning, every single one of us from pulpit to pew is engaged in a life-long building effort! Every single one of us is building something. The big question, however, is what are we building? How do we know if our building is quality construction or a money pit? Are we building a shack on the beach or a house on the rock? Listen to Jesus’ words once again:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Let’s quickly put these few verses in their context. The parable of the two builders comes at the tail end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The parable of the two builders is Jesus’ loud Amen! to everything that Jesus just preached about money, marriage, prayer, etc. But especially the grace He brings.

Builder ‘A’ is called a ‘wise man.’ He did a careful land search. He found the perfect spot! He built his house upon a rock. The Greek word used here for ‘rock’ means “boulder, rocky cliff, or the rock foundation under a fortress.” Even though this rock would be a difficult place to build, the man knew that this was the place that would last. He worked hard. And his hard work was rewarded. The storm came – rushing winds, pouring rain, pounding waves, swirling floods. It was an insurance adjuster’s nightmare! But don’t worry about builder ‘A’. His house stood firm. Those who are wise, those who listen to and then live the Word of the Lord, will never be left standing alone in the rain!

Builder ‘B’ is called a ‘fool.’ The Greek word used here to describe this builder is the word that we get our English word moron from. He knew that storms could kick up in an instant. He knew the importance of having a good, solid foundation. He knew better, but he chose poorly. He went for the easy route. No digging, no getting set upon a rock. It wasn’t work. It was the quick answer. He figured that the beach would be the ultimate place to build his house. The children could build sand castles and swim. Life would be non-stop fun in the sun! That is until the storm came. His house fell down around him. Those who are foolish – those who hear the Word, but don’t listen to the Word – those who hear the Word, but don’t believe the Word – or those who hear the Word, but don’t live the Word – will stand alone.

Builder ‘A’ is a wise builder, because he “hears these words of mine and puts them into practice.” Builder ‘B’ is the foolish beach-bum, because he is the one “who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice.”

So now the question comes up once again: what are we building? Are we building rom God’s Word, founded upon the rock of Christ, or are we building for ourselves upon the sands of life that seem easier and more fun.

How is YOUR building project doing? What do I mean? Well, how passionate are you about hearing and believing the Word?

Let me as the hard questions that too many scoff but ought to give consideration:

I don’t want to see any hands, but how many of you are 100% certain that you could recite the 1st Commandment to me right now? How about the 8th? Can you confidently give me Bible passage that deals with Christian Baptism? Or from Jesus’ sermon on the mount, the meaning of the Lord’s prayer? How about one that deals with your awesome responsibility as head of your family?

Do we have some work to do in hearing the Word? If we don’t know the biblical facts, then at best we are shoveling around in the sand of human feelings. If we aren’t solid on the biblical basics, then we are building our family a sandy shack – and quite honestly the clouds are starting to look pretty nasty!

Follow me another step: how is your building project doing when it comes to hearing the Word AND putting the Word into practice? Hearing the Word and living the Word? This is an important question, because your life is a child’s most used textbook! Let me give you three quick examples, with how we treat the first table of the Law toward God different than the 2nd table of the law towards out neighbor:

How many of us took our child out to the store to personally teach them how to shop lift without getting caught? Not one of us. That would be breaking the 7th Commandment! Will we then turn around and teach our children how to sin against the 3rd commandment by regularly skipping worshiping God? A powerful lesson is taught one snore, one sporting event, one “there’s always next week” excuse at a time.

How many of us regularly allow our children to lip off or sass back at us? Not a chance. And, besides, that would be breaking the 4th Commandment! How many then turn right around and teach their children how to break the 2nd Commandment, one “Oh my God… Jesus Christ… and God bleep it” at a time. 

How many of us would consider giving our children a lesson on how to commit adultery without getting caught? Why then do we turn around and teach them how to commit spiritual adultery by breaking the 1st Commandment by not loving and trusting God above all things? Is the shack on the beach finished? Careful.

If some of you are thinking that I might be a bit “over the top” this morning, go for it. If any of this is my word, may God bless you with very short memories. If any of this is God’s Word, we best take notice, because Jesus has a long track record of saying what he means. But if any of this makes you feel bad, and truthfully and honestly, pastor first preach to themselves, then I say REJOICE! For St. Paul writes to the church at Corinth, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor 7:10).

Together, we look up from our life on the beach. We look up from our sandcastles of misplaced priorities and lost opportunities to hear and live the Word. We look up from every botched opportunity to be built upon the Rock that not only took the greatest storm of life but was raised again through it, upon Rock that was, and is, and is to come, the Rock who before the foundation of the world is the foundation of all things. something that really matters forever. I like the way one confession puts it in my daily prayer book:

Trouble me with the smallness of my work and the greatness of your command. Trouble me with my unholiness and my slowness to obey.

Trouble me with time running out and every lost hour.

Trouble me with my sins and the sins of all men.

Trouble me, O Lord, and let me keep my faith in the midst of my trouble. I thank you Lord that my work ends and your work begins.

Lord I believe. Help me overcome my unbelief!

In mercy, God has allowed us to feel a bit of the wind, a tinge of the rain’s sting, a sample of the waves’ fury. But thanks be to God, we are not washed up! Instead, he does precisely what we don’t deserve: He washes us and sanctifies us in his baptism. He warms us and strengthens us with his Word of forgiveness. He feeds us and strengthens us with his Supper. Jesus himself endured the eye of the storm on the cross! In Christ, we have the peace and calm of his forgiveness. Instead of an eternal storm, God the Father has sent us his eternal Son – our Savior!

Every single time that we have been foolish in our lives, it is forgiven.Every time that we have been half-hearted in our dedication to doing the Word of God in the World, in our church, in our families: Forgiven. Jesus’ Word promises you that. Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplished it. Dear friends: Build your life on that!

So with the forgiveness of our Savior in our heart and the love of the Savior burning in our belly, may you find great joy in living for him! Serve him – body and soul, because he died and rose again to save our body and soul. Let each and every one of your words and your deeds be done to proclaim the excellencies of Him who saved you and call you out of darkness into light (1 Peter 2:9).

So, what are you building? Well it is the wrong question, what is God building?! A Holy Temple of people who love to hear, and believe, and do their Lord’s Word! A Holy Temple – and the Gates of Hell itself will not overcome it! Amen.

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