Two houses in the same neighborhood. One a stunning home on a hill with a gorgeous view. Stately, spacious, meticulously landscaped, around the clock attention, no expense spared on the interior finishes and furnishings; a showhouse for sure.
Down the street a pretty house. Nothing fancy, but functional. Built with love. A little messy here and there. Fingerprints of life visible on the walls; subtle scuffs on the study floors. A good home. A solid home.
One warm summer day an unexpected storm blows through. The neighborhood braces for hours of rain, flooding, and heavy winds. But the quaint neighborhood is no match for the storm. All but a few homes demolished. No one saw this one coming and the houses everyone expected to survive are in shambles, while some of the often overlooked homes are intact. The stately house on the hill: only scraps remaining. The simple, sturdy home: standing tall among the rubble.
The difference? A strong foundation; a more attention given to its structure than to the shiny showcase features.
Time and again, Jesus teaches that the inside – the heart – is what matters. The outside can be deceiving. The things unseen by man, but seen by God, are what is truly valued.
A slick image and clean looking façade can take a hit or two, but won’t survive the big storms. And one thing we can count on is storms and trials. Only deep roots sown by abiding in Jesus, and a solid foundation built on His truth can help us weather the storms that will inevitably come.
Working on the foundation isn’t always fun. It is hard work; unseen and unadmired by others. The world tells us to spend our time making the outside look impressive, but this does nothing to shore up the foundation to withstand the trials.
The previous portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount focused on some internal foundation building – prayer, giving, anxiety, fasting. In these closing statements of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He turns to some external components. Foundation building of doing to others as we would have them do to us…even when it comes to judging sin and behavior. If we see something in someone else, it is an opportunity for self-evaluation, not snap judgment. Foundation building of practicing discernment when it comes to who we follow. Many false teachers look good on the outside but are only leading us down the attractive, easy-to-travel, wide road that leads to destruction.
The reminder to pray can’t be stated enough as Jesus circles back to it. We need to be persistent and progressive in prayer. Asking. Seeking. Knocking. Foundation building with rewards God is eagerly waiting to give us. Good fruit He can’t wait to join us in producing.
While the wide gate the culture preaches of live and let live, make your own rules, believe your own truth is tempting at times, it will never prepare us for storms.
Press on, friends, through the narrow gate of abiding and tending to the foundation in Jesus…the only way to confidently make it through the storms of life.
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