Recently I purchased an estate sale house, one that had not been lived in for over a year. The previous owner was a fragile elderly gentleman who didn’t have the strength or interest to take care of the house, and it was obvious by its inside condition. After spending a year cleaning, painting and reconstructing the house, I realized the parallels of the spiritual life to that of a home. Even though we use it as an expression, the Bible tells us that we are houses! Throughout the Scriptures, God’s people are called houses, buildings, and temples. II Corinthians 5:1 – “For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens…” II Corinthians 5:2 – “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven…” I Corinthians 3:9 – “For we are laborers together with God: you are God’s field, [you are] God’s building.”
So we are houses, housing the Holy Spirit. Christ has chosen us to manifest Himself, in this housing called the body.
So let us see how the construction of a home is similar to the spiritual life.
While looking for homes, I rejected one house that I really liked because at the last moment I found out that the foundation was faulty. If your house has a bad foundation, the stability of the remaining part of the house is uncertain…especially during storms! Matthew 7:21-27 gives us an illustration of the different types of foundations. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine, and acts upon them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded upon the rock. And everyone who hears these words of Mine, and does not act upon them, will be like a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and burst against that house; and it fell, and great was its fall.”
The house in this passage represents your life, so it is important to understand the basis upon which we build our lives. Now according to Matthew 7, there are two ways in which to build, oneon the sand and the other on the Rock. What we see represented in thispassage are two people building their lives on different foundations. From the outside these two homes probably look very similar.
Building Your Life on the Sand
The sand is actually not a foundation but is a representation of personal opinions, attitudes, and wills as opposed to the obedience of God’s Word. Instead of using the Scriptures as our standard, we use our own methods. We know what the Bible says, but we want to do things our own way. Instead of living by the words of Jesus, “not my will but your will Lord,” we would rather live by the famous hamburger slogan, “have it your way.” We think that because we are making “sacrifices” for God, we are living the Christian life, but the Bible tells us, “to obey is better than sacrifice…”
One of the reasons why some build their house on the sand is that there is no hard work involved and you get fast results. To build a foundation on a rock takes time, sweat and work. It requires hard discipline and obedience to a set plan.
The sand represents putting one’s own “experiences” over the Word of God. Unfortunately today, people would rather “experience” God than read His Word. People tell me they know that God works a certain way because they have experienced it. This thinking is believed even if it’s against His Word the Bible! You cannot rely on an experience nor have the “peace of God,” if it contradicts the Bible, because God NEVER contradicts Himself.
Those who build on the sand are always trying to “feel” God instead of having the quiet assurance that He is there. So some lay on the ground laughing and barking like dogs saying that they feel God. Do you think that God can use 1000 people lying on the floor laughing for several hours or 10 people who are committed to God’s Word and the fulfillment of it? If you owned a company, would you rather have your employees rolling around on the floor laughing all the time saying that they are just enjoying your generosity? Or would you rather have loving, productive people that are knowledgeable about the company, and are striving to advance it with their committed labor?
Building your life on the sand is like the person who runs around looking for the signs and wonders that Jesus warned us against in Matthew 24. Instead of obedience to God’s Word, we would rather hear a new revelation or prophecy that supersedes the Bible. There is no “new” revelation or prophecy that supersedes the Bible, despite what many “famous” teachers are claiming. Yes God still speaks today, but I would rather listen for the small still voice of God in my life then some screamer claiming that God told him to tell me to give him money!!
The saddest part of building your life on the sand is that it is a house that cannot hold out against a storm. Without a foundation, there is nothing solid holding the house together. So when the storms of life come beating against the house built on sand, that house will collapse. How many Christians have we seen that have built their spiritual lives on ceremonies, rituals, visions, experience, feelings, prophecies, self purpose… everything but the Word of God, and when they face a major trial, their whole spiritual life collapses.
Building Your Life on the Foundation
The differences between the foundations are enormous, yet to some of us, they look almost exactly alike. The most important part of the foundation is what holds it together, and that is the Word of God and obedience to it.
Building your house on the foundation is coming into a living relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is not just a belief in God, but a living relationship with the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Christianity is that it is a “belief” or “religion.” That is true to a degree, but you can believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, heaven, hell, and all the proper doctrines of the Bible and still go to hell! The Scriptures tell us that the devil believes and that He shudders! (James 2:19) You have to receive the Lord Jesus Christ into your life, asking him to literally come into you. You can believe that I have a ten dollar bill all you want and that would do nothing for you… but if you asked for that ten dollar bill and I gave it to you, then you would receive the blessing of the ten dollars. The same is true of Jesus. Unless you receive Him then you don’t really have Him!
This requires coming to God and saying, “I die to myself, my plans, my ambitions, my goals and I’ll let you become what you want to become through me. You are my Lord, and I am your servant.” It is not easy because you are now turning over the keys of your life to God! Your highest priority in your life is seeking first God’s will, His Lordship and righteousness in your life (Matthew 6:33).
The person who bases their life on God’s Word is the one who God says will have life more abundantly, be more fruitful and more generous. That person will now have the love, joy and peace that God promised because they realize that God is responsible for all their steps, and they trust Him. The Scriptures point out that everyone who obeys the Word of God is building his house on the foundation that could outlast any of the storms of life. Yes, the house may take some hits through a storm, but as long as the foundation is solid, the house will not come crashing down.
Repairing the House
While my kitchen was being renovated, the ceiling collapsed. At first I was frustrated as my mind started to calculate the cost of the repair. Yet the collapsed ceiling exposed bad wiring that could have easily caused a major fire. The collapsed ceiling showed us that parts of the house were built poorly.
Some of our homes are in need of repair. Some of us may have laid our foundations on Christ, but we have built some parts of the house poorly. 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 tells us, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
During our construction we needed various “inspections” from the town building inspector. He would judge the work that was completed to make sure that the materials and workmanship were acceptable. This passage is telling us that the Lord will judge or test the materials of our lives in three areas to see if it is acceptable:
1] God will judge our usage of our gifts. God has given all of us certain gifts to use. He has gifted us to help build up His body, the church. Are we being obedient to His call of sharing what He has freely given us?
2] God will judge the stewardship of our time and resources. After years of wasting God’s time and money, I realized that I was just a “manager” of His time and money. Once I came to that conclusion my whole perspective changed because I realized that I was now accountable to God how I handled His resources! Are you managing your time and resources like they were God’s? Are you investing your precious time into God’s kingdom? Would you live your life differently if you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow? Are you treating your money like it was God’s money (which it is!)?
3] God will judge our motives. What motivates you to serve the Lord? Because it’s fun or you feel obligated? Do you want to be recognized, appreciated or receive the praise of men, or do you truly love people and want to see them won to Jesus Christ?
Psalm 127 tells us: “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Unless God is the one who is building your house, your life, your ministry, your marriage, your business, you are laboring in vain.
During the renovation of our kitchen, things didn’t move as fast as we hoped they would. Sometimes while under construction, you feel like it will never end. The same is true of our spiritual lives, when God has us under His construction. As He removes and rebuilds parts of our lives, we think that it will never end! Yet, when the construction was over, we have something beautiful. When God’s construction is over, He too has made something beautiful. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that “He has made everything beautiful in His time.”
Because of the construction in the kitchen, I had to live with the refrigerator, stove and kitchen table in a small, already crowded living room. Living like that for a month was a major inconvenience to say the least. Yet sometimes we have to live with the inconveniences, problems, and annoyances. Jesus even promised it in John 16:33 when He said, “…In this world you will have trouble…” I’m sure Jesus coming down to earth didn’t have the same conveniences as heaven!
The man who owned the house before me never trimmed his plants. So I had 30 year old plants that had grown out of shape and totally wild. I decided to uproot some deep plants, pulling the roots out. Some of the roots were so deep and strong that it took hours of digging and pulling. As I was pulling them I was reminded of the spiritual lesson of uprooting sin in our lives. As I once stated in a previous article: to receive the Word, we have to have a prepared heart. Our hearts otherwise become choked out by weeds. I had to dig deep to pull out roots, and I had to turn over dirt sometimes several times. Yet while I was doing one of the things I hate most, God was showing me that this represents breaking up the fallow ground in my heart. Turning over and confessing my sin, pulling out the weeds, and preparing it to be able to receive seed. Remove the root of sin in your life and put your roots into God’s Word.
Maintaining the House
Just when I thought I was totally done, and everything was finished, I found out that I have to maintain the house. I have to fix the little problems, or I need to make sure parts of the house do not get run down. We too are to maintain our relationship with the Lord. We too are to stand firm, not let things get run down or weeds overgrown.
2 Peter 1:10 tells us, “Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall” in other words, your house will never collapse.
Rest and Shelter
Our home represents a place where we go for feeding and for rest, a shelter in the storms. So too we find our rest and feeding in our relationship with God. God has told us that He is our Rock, our Refuge, our Shelter through the storms. The disciples were in awe as they watched Jesus take command over the storm. The same Jesus that stood and calmed the storm that the disciples were in wants to calm the storms of your life, and your hearts. He wants you to learn to “Be still and know that He is God” in all situations. Psalm 62 tells us that our souls find rest in God alone.
The End of the Project
When I look back at the construction, I realize the mistakes that I made. I probably would have done some things different, but overall the construction job came out excellent. We all make mistakes. The book of James says that we “all stumble in our ways.” I’m sure that if we look back at many things in our lives, we would have taken a different route.
Some of us need to make sure we are building on the foundation of Jesus and obedience to His Word. We may have to move the spiritual house onto the proper foundation of God’s Word.
Some of our houses are in dire need of repair. Some of us need to gut the house, restructure the beams, and clean out the attics. We may need to return to our “first love” and make Jesus the Lord, the Captain, the Master of our lives. We have to sit down before Him and evaluate how we are using our gifts, our resources, and what our motives are before Him.
Some of us may have some overgrown weeds, or sin that is choking out our relationship with God. When I planted, weeded and trimmed my shrubs, most of the neighbors did the same shortly after. People want the see the end result of a “weeded” garden before they take action. I’m not saying that I’m perfect… far from it to say the least! But I keep on pulling the weeds or sins and letting God grow the garden.
The Finishing Touch
Even though I made mistakes, the contractor was a master craftsman who was talented enough to work around my errors. He took an old, dingy kitchen and made it a piece of art. The secret was I had to step back and let the craftsman be the craftsman and I had to trust his decisions. That is a pretty hard job for someone who loves control.
The unique part is that Jesus was a Carpenter. He is also a Master Craftsman who is molding us, His spiritual houses, into something beautiful. Yes, we may have made mistakes, even years and years of mistakes. God tells us that “He will restore the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25). Even if we have messed up so bad that we think God will not use us, He tells us that he will restore the years back to us. He can take a worn out life and restore it to something beautiful. God can work with anything, and anyone as long as we come to Him and step back to let Him be God! We have to give Him total control of our lives and trust His decisions.
When people see the beauty of our kitchen, they too want the same craftsman. The same is true of our lives. When people see the beauty of the work that only God can do, they too want that Master Craftsman to work on them.
“Therefore, be always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord – for we walk by faith, not by sight – we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him (2 Corinthians 5:6-9).