Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
Jesus compares life to building a house. Have you ever explored the significance of that image? We’re all building a house. We’re all facing the inevitable reality of rain, floods, and winds that come against our life. And the decisive factor in whether our house will withstand life’s storms is rather simple: Do we have a firm foundation of hearing the words of Jesus Christ…and doing them? We can learn a lot by comparing the physical foundations of our houses with the spiritual foundations of our lives. Let’s trace that comparison in a number of areas and see if it helps us find new depths of meaning in a familiar passage.
1. Foundations are often taken for granted.
Growing up in my parents’ home, I never questioned the integrity of our house’s foundation. I trusted my parents, and so I assumed that their home was safe to inhabit. In a similar way, I think we often live in spiritual houses with unexamined foundations. We take for granted that what our parents or churches taught us is solid, but we haven’t taken the time to investigate, to break out our own shovel and dig down deep. When foundations are assumed but not appropriated, there’s always a chance that “moving out of the house” will reveal cracks in our own foundation. In what ways do you take the foundations of your life for granted?
2. Foundations are normally hidden from view.
We often take foundations for granted because, when it comes to a physical house, the foundation itself is usually hidden from view. It’s the most important aspect of the building—and the hardest to see. In our spiritual lives, the bedrock beliefs that shape our thoughts, affections, and actions are difficult to detect without investigation. When we focus on the part of our house that we can easily see—our behavior—we can miss the opportunity to see the foundational convictions that undergird everything else. Have you taken time to uncover what you really believe about God and His Word?
3. Foundations are not always transferable.
The foundation that works for a house in Dallas may not work in Colorado. And the one that works in Florida may not work in California. With physical houses, foundations are not always transferable. Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, our spiritual foundation should “hold” at different times and places. But sometimes moving to a new place in the world or a new season in life reveals that we struggle to live in and through Christ in a new context. Going to college, moving to a new town, or starting a new relationship can reveal the need for foundation work.
4. Foundations are ultimately tested by time and trials.
No matter what the builder claims, time and trials are the ultimate tests of a foundation’s integrity. When a house falls apart in the wind and the rain, we learn the truth about its foundation. When a building has been standing in Europe for 1,000 years, we can draw conclusions about its foundation. Similarly, as we build a life, the real test of our foundation is not how we live on a beautiful 70-degree day without a cloud in the sky, but how we live when the heavens open up and the wind bends the trees in our yard. What does your response to life’s trials reveal about your foundations?
5. Foundations are essential.
A building won’t survive without a strong foundation, and neither will a life. Thomas à Kempis once said, “The loftier the building, the deeper must the foundation be laid.” So how lofty is the building that the Lord is calling us to build? We often feel the pressure to build a life that passes inspection with our family, friends, and coworkers. But the Lord wants to build our lives in such a way that they withstand life’s trials now and the Lord’s “inspection” later.
When we realize that the Lord wants to build us into houses that reflect Jesus Christ, the appropriate response is to humble ourselves and lean on the grace that saves and renovates us. “On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.” So are we hearing and doing the words of Jesus Christ, by fleeing to Him for refuge and relying on Him as we build a life?
How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He has said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?
Paul writes, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). If you build a life on anything else, it will eventually fail, but if you are in Christ, you have an invincible foundation. Don’t take that for granted! By God’s grace, survey it, trust it, and build upon it.