Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The Holy Gospel according to St. Matthew 7:21-29

7:21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 7:22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many deeds of power in your name?' 7:23 Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; go away from me, you evildoers.' 7:24 "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. 7:25 The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock. 7:26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 7:27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell--and great was its fall!" 7:28 Now when Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were astounded at his teaching, 7:29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

This is the Gospel of the Lord . . .

Build Wisely, Correct Gently

A man built a house for his family. Although he had 3 children, he could not build the house big enough to fit three bedrooms because of the increased expense in lumber at that time. This man was a good enough carpenter and he knew he could increase the SPAN of his roof trusses, and make the house bigger, but that such an increase in length and width might pose a safety hazard.

The neighbor of the first man also had a family the same size, this neighbor sought to show his craftiness by making a larger home than the neighbor for less money. He also was a good enough carpenter, but he was taking "Short Cuts" and by building a larger home with less support structures . . . he was bending the rules of engineering. For several years the second man contented himself in thinking of his ability to build a larger home than his neighbor for less money!! Then came a heavy snow in the forth year. The first man listened as his growing children and wife complained about the house being too small for everyone, but the complaints and cabin fever did not bother this man, he knew that he done the best he could to build a strong house to keep his family warm and safe.

The neighboring family seemed more content in their larger home. But that man could not sleep soundly at night knowing that the snow on the roof might overstress his wider roof trusses and the roof or walls of the house might collapse!! As you might have guessed, in the case of the second man who had been boastful of his larger home and lower expenditure for materials . . . his roof began to creak and sag under the heavy snow load . . . that house could not stand up under the weight and pressure of a severe winter storm. And the family had to move out of that home before it collapsed altogether!

What about your life and mine?? Are we built upon a strong enough foundation?? Have you and I invested enough in the materials to build a strong spiritual house?? Does our workmanship show in the places of life that most people don't see??? Or do you lie awake at night worrying about tomarrow because of inner insecurities? Have we fallen into a pattern where we are constantly attempting to sure up a weak foundation or are the roof trusses of our lives overextended for the kinds of weight and winds that accumulate at various times in life?

It may not be entirely our fault that our life's engineering was not done adequately. Some of us may have grown up in a home where there was not a godly example, some of us may have suffered from abuse or neglect or in a home where alcoholism or drug abuse was deteriorating the foundation of life from a young age. . .. On the other hand, we may not even be aware of a crack in our foundation or a improperly engineered roof truss. This was the case in the last home that Suse and I owned. It was a modular home, and before we sold it to move to Gettysburg, I discovered that two of the pilings had cracked. These were part of the foundation on which the home rested on. I also found that, in the attic space, the original builder had not done a very good job connecting the two sections of the house's roof trusses together. In the event

of a major storm, the wind could cause the roof to separate.

After consulting a structural engineer, I went to work to repair the broken foundation pilings and strengthen the roof connections in the attic. When I was done, even though it was money I had not planned on spending . . . I felt good about the structural integrity of the house. I even felt good knowing that whoever bought the house was getting a better house than I had before!!

Jesus is asking us to carefully evaluate our lives. Is there structural integrity in your Christian Character?? Do you find yourself constantly trying to fight against perceived inadequacies?? I would suggest that it is not necessarily the inadequacies themselves that Jesus is concerned about, rather it is the ways in which we are responding to those inadequacies. Some of us in trying to make up for our weak foundation lash out at others who put a strain on our roof!

Some of us overreact to the winds of criticism. Instead of listening to words of advice or correction we immediately jump to the offensive . . . we use harsh words or negative thoughts about others to counteract our own inadequacies.

Instead of owing up to some poor engineering choices earlier in life and going back to correct those problems, we seek to cover up the weak links in our life with counter-criticism, self pity, or loathing. In light of Jesus' words today about Wise Builders and Foolish Builders. Let's take a hold of what Jesus is offering. Choose Wisely, Make wise choices!! IF you become aware of a problem in your house, don't go into denial . . . but seek out a structural engineer. Make some improvements. Don't blame others for your inability to weather life's challenges. But accept your weakness bring that to Jesus who is the master Craftsman. Allow God, by the Holy Spirit to mold your life and shape you into something smooth . . . that way the hurricane force winds will blow over you (and YES WE WILL ALL BE TESTED!!) . . . not having flat walls and sharp edges will preserve us and our neighbors.

Finally, although you see your neighbor's faults and hear their attempts at covering up inadequacies and poor engineering of life. Do not add to the weight of their burden with a self-righteous attitude. Rather, be sensitive and kind. Even if they are blowing a strong North Wind at your house . . . resist the temptation to blow back. Rather, endure their FOOLISH WAY . . . and look for the opportunity to help them repair their collapsed house when that time comes. Be Gentle, Be Kind, BE Patient. And in all these things we will be found Worthy before our Lord Jesus Christ.


Read more writings of Pastor Jon