Lenten Devotional 4-6-23

Sermon on the Mount

April 6, 2023

Matthew 7: 24-27

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. 25The 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. 26And 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. 27The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall!’

Many years ago when I was practicing Law, I represented an engineer who designed a building that collapsed in a windstorm not long after it was built. Happily no one was hurt, but the owner of the building sued the engineer for the cost of replacing the building. The owner’s pitch was that the building simply should not have collapsed. My client responded by saying there was nothing wrong with the design of the building and that it fell as a result of an act of nature. I sent the plans for the building out to an objective engineering expert. After a long wait, I got a call from my expert who directed me to a small spot in the middle of many pages of drawings. He said that in that spot a small part of a truss was absent. (For all you engineers and architects reading this, please understand that this was a few decades ago and my exact memory of the report of the expert is fuzzy.) The absence of this small support made the collapse of the building inevitable. Had it been present, the wind would not have knocked it down. So, we settled.

I was reminded of that case when I read this passage. My client had gone to school and became licensed as an engineer, but he failed (at least in this one case) to act on his training and experience. That it was simply a mistake was not comforting to the owner of the building. The building was built on sand, not rock. It collapsed.

What Jesus is saying here is that we must consider this Sermon on the Mount in its entirety when we decide how we are going to construct our lives. It is the education and training we need to build our lives well. If we choose a different design, great will be our fall. If we follow the plans Jesus teaches us, no wind, flood or storm will cause us to fall.