“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.” (Matthew 7:26-27)
Recently, when one our professors was unable to teach his Tuesday night class, I had the opportunity to step in and substitute. The class was on Family Counseling, and since I had taught a couple of counseling courses for the college and had the liberty to teach whatever I wanted, I put together some quick notes to use as talking points. The scripture upon which I based my talk was this passage where Jesus likened the one who heard and did His words to one who built his house on a solid foundation. The winds and rains came and beat upon the house, but it stood because it was founded upon a rock. He also spoke of the one who heard the word but failed to do it. It was the house built upon the sand, which fell when tested by the storm.
The thing about a foundation is that it lies beneath the surface and is not apparent to the observer. Two houses may look identical, and yet what might separate them is the foundation upon which they are built. The same is true with the lives of people. No matter how good things look superficially, there is one thing that will reveal the foundation upon which our lives are built, and that is the storm. Storms come to every life. Storms are completely impartial. Good people, even godly people, undergo the storms of life, just as mean-spirited, wicked people do. The question isn’t whether the storm is coming. The question is whether your house will stand when it strikes.
Years ago, when the Northridge earthquake struck the valley, I was awakened by the shaking, even though I lived more than a hundred miles away. When I went down to minister in the area a couple of weeks later, I witnessed the damage myself. One of my good friends lived in nearby Granada Hills. His street had been affected by the quake as well, but interestingly only the houses on the downhill side of the street were affected. His house and the others on the upper slope of the hill were mostly unaffected. When I asked him why that was, he pointed at the damaged houses and said, “This is all landfill on this side.” The moment I heard that, I realized I had just heard a biblical principle. When the foundation is compromised, the house will fall when shaken.
Often people’s lives are broken because they have not built on the solid foundation of God’s Word. If we can help them see how the belief or ideology upon which they have endeavored to build their lives differs from the Biblical worldview, we can help them make the necessary corrections and rebuild upon the solid foundations of truth. By doing so, we can help them survive future storms and experience victory where they have known only defeat.
This is a great challenge to many believers today who are allowing the culture to influence their thinking more than the Word of God. The apostle Paul dealt with this in His second letter to the Corinthians. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). What Paul is dealing with here is often misunderstood. He was addressing strongholds, or strong convictions in the mind, that are built upon thoughts and reasonings (arguments) that are contrary to the truth of God’s Word. Many believers today resist sound counsel because they have bought into what the “experts” in popular culture are saying rather than embracing the immutable, objective truth of God’s Word. Friend, when you’re building your life on Oprah and Dr. Phil rather than the inspired counsel of God’s Word, you’re headed for trouble!
A quick example should suffice. Let’s take a quick look at two verses that speak to raising children and compare them with the popular psychobabble that passes for wisdom in today’s culture. First, James says, “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No,’ lest you fall into judgment” (James 5:12). While you may not think of this as a parenting verse, we’ve all seen the abuse of this principle while shopping at our local Walmart! Who of us has not seen the child throwing a temper tantrum in the shopping cart because he or she did not get their way while the parent begins a series of threats they never intend to make good on?
It usually goes something like this. “Johnny, you better sit down or Mommy will get on to you!” The fit continues, so Mom’s volume increases as she says, “Johnny, didn’t you not hear Mommy? Don’t make me spank your bottom!” The fit continues unabated, so Mom pulls out the big guns, saying, “If you don’t stop, we won’t go to McDonalds after we’re done shopping!” It becomes obvious that the child has learned that Mommy’s “yes” or “no” mean nothing, and that she will continue to threaten without acting on the second verse in our lesson on parenting, which says, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Proverbs 13:24). Did you see that? It does not say, “He who spares his rod spoils his child.” It says he “hates his child.” Why such a strong statement?
By refusing to let her “yes” be a real “yes” and not following through with whatever punishment is appropriate, the parent is teaching the child that his poor choices have no consequences, a false premise based on poor parenting skills rather than the truth. What Johnny’s Mom is essentially teaching him is that not only can he rebel with impunity; he’ll even get his way by throwing a fit. So, he adopts the belief that he can defy authority, act irresponsibly, insist on his way, and the universe will realign for him and give him what he wants. The truth is, however, that when he gets into the job market and begins to have relationships with grown-ups, this foolish and petulant behavior will undermine his success in every area of life. So, while capitulating to his fit and rewarding bad behavior might make it easier for little Johnny’s Mother for the moment, it is teaching Johnny to live his life out of alignment with the truth. He may get away with that for a while, but the immutable principles of sowing and reaping cannot be gainsaid forever. Ultimately, Johnny will pay a price simply because his life was built upon a lie. The talking heads of the day may applaud Johnny’s Mom, telling her that punishment would have hurt Johnny’s self-esteem, but in reality, she helped to put sand under Johnny’s castle, which makes for a poor foundation.
Instead of learning discipline and personal accountability, which would have helped him to mature, equipped him to hold positions of responsibility, and promoted meaningful, healthy relationships, he becomes the kind of person who blames others for his failures and undermines his relationships with selfishness. While Johnny, and much of society, will look to blame his problems on the systematic oppression of his external circumstances (or some such thing), the real problem is right beneath his feet. He simply built on a faulty foundation.
This does not go down well in a world where there are those who want to be able to redefine right and wrong to suit their own preferences, but like a good parent, we need to tell them that some things are not negotiable simply because one doesn’t like it that way, and throwing a fit does not change reality. Life has enough challenges without building on the quicksand of trendy, ideological falsehoods. God gave us His Word because He knew that the storms would come and that a house built on the proper foundation of truth would carry us through the tempest to the clear skies on the other side of the storm.
Dr. Randy Bunch is the pastor of West Kern Christian Center, located at 1000 6th Street in Taft, as well as a graduate advisor and adjunct professor at Summit Bible College in Bakersfield, California. He is the author of several books, including his new devotional, Immutable: Changeless Truth for a Changing World. For more information, or to purchase your copy, go to immuntablebook.com. For more information on the ministries of WKCC, you can go the ministry’s website at wkcconnect.org.