While professional boxer “Iron” Mike Tyson was never considered a great philosopher, he did have some poignant insight when asked about his opponents plan to defend against his left hook. Tyson responded, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” In other words, if your plan does not help you navigate adversity, it’s not a very good plan. Good plans don’t disappear during adversity, but help you stand during adversity. Jesus concludes His Sermon on the Mount by calling His disciples to be wise and put His teaching into action because only He can help you successfully survive the storms of life.
The Solid Rock
Jesus said: “everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock.” It has long been recognized that a well-built house must sit upon a strong foundation. The foundation of a house keeps it stable. A strong foundation is vital because a mistake in the foundation will result in major problems in the rest of the house. Jesus uses the example of a foundation to show the importance of a strong foundation (e.g., underlying principle) for a person’s life. Our foundation must be strong enough to help us endure and persevere. Jesus’ point is that it is only wise to make Him and His teaching the foundation of your life. He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings and He must be our source of wisdom and guidance. Jesus promised to uphold His children and He always keeps His promises.
Jesus also mentions the foolishness of refusing to heed His teaching. He said, “but everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” The foolish man may hear Jesus and His teaching but does not obey or put into action. With Jesus and His teaching rejected, something else (money, fame, health, family, etc.) is substituted as a foundation. This is foolish because nothing else but Jesus can uphold you during adversity and trials.
The Stormy Life
Both foundations seem to be strong until they are tested. Jesus says that “The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great!” Notice that the rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew on both houses. Both houses encountered the same adversity, but only the house built upon the rock endured. The house built upon the sand collapsed. It is very important to note that the foundation of the house is not designed to prevent storms from hitting the house, but to secure the house during the storm. A life built upon the foundation of Christ will endure all adversity because Christ is our foundation and we are secured by Him. Surrendering your life to Christ is not a means to live a life free from adversity, but how you endure adversity. But, if a person’s foundation for life is money, what happens when the Stock Market drops? What happens when a job is lost, or a costly hospital stay wipes out savings? If a person’s foundation is anything other than Christ, the collapse is inevitable because only through Christ can you endure.
The Suitable End
We ignore wise counsel to our detriment. James mentioned that we must “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). In the Great Commission, Jesus instructed us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matt 28:19-20). We need to pay attention to the last section of this command which is “teaching them to obey.” What are we to obey? What He has commanded.
Our foundation is built upon Jesus Himself and everything He has stated in The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7). The 3 Circles New Testament has helpfully summarized seven commands Jesus gives to all believers. They are:
- Repent & Believe: Mark 1:5 – This is how we become a Christian. Repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.
- Baptism: Matthew 28:19 – This is our public profession of faith in Jesus. We show we have been united with Christ in His death and His resurrection.
- Gather: Hebrews 10:24-25 – This is how we stir up one another to love and good works and how we encourage one another as we await the day of Christ.
- Love our Neighbors: Matthew 22:37-39 – This is how we show the transformational love of Christ. How we treat others is an important indicator of our faith.
- Make Disciples: Matthew 28:18-20 – This is our mission in life. Our life on Earth must be focused on making disciples of Jesus Christ. This is why we are here.
- Pray: Matthew 6:9-13 – This is how we communicate with God. We learn from God through Bible Intake and we are being conformed to God’s will through prayer.
- Persevere: John 16:33 – This is our promise from Jesus: We will be upheld and preserved through the power of the Holy Spirit in the midst of our trials. The trials we endure will test the genuineness of our faith.
We must also keep in mind that Christianity is not just a set of commands to obey. It is a relationship with Christ. Paul wrote, “What matters is faith working through love” (Gal 5:6). When Jesus finished the Sermon on the Mount, “the crowds were astonished at His teaching.” What about you? Jesus said that the wise man is the one who hears and puts into action. Are you living your life with Jesus as your boss? Do you put His teaching and His commands into practice?