“A Firm Foundation”
(1Timothy 6: 6-19)
Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.
They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.
As we drove along the highway on route to our Virginia Beach vacation destination, we came across many road-construction projects. What struck me most about these projects was a common thread that ran through each of them. It was the tremendous amount of steel rebar and wire that the workers were mending together to form a firm foundation for the asphalt that would then be poured upon them and smoothed into the finished driving surface. The workers were both intentional and careful about how they laid in the ground soil, rolled it to tightly pack it down, and then built the metal structural foundation upon which the asphalt would be placed. I suspect that experience has taught these seasoned highway construction workers the importance of developing a firm foundation before laying down the asphalt. We have all driven down many of the bumpy and cracked failed highway projects that have occurred when the structural foundation for the road is not strong and sound. Without a solid foundation, the stress of seasonal climate changes will create cracks and faults in the pavement surface, making it difficult to navigate it in a safe manner.
This same principle also applies to buildings. A firm foundation is essential if a building is expected to withstand the seasonal variations in temperature, as well as UV radiation, rain/snow accumulation, and heavy wind exposure. These conditions are known as “weathering” or “weather-aging” events, because of the stress they place upon the integrity of a building. A simple example of this can be seen in the roofing shingles we may occasionally find on our lawn after a heavy wind and rain storm. It takes a firm foundation for a building to be able to withstand the weathering impact of these unpredictable and naturally occurring climate events.
It is quite easy to observe and to understand the real and tangible impact climate changes can have on construction projects. That is why they are used as life analogies and in parables about the kingdom of God in many verses of scripture. For example, in Luke Chapter 6 verses 46-49, Jesus addressed the Disciples and followers he was teaching with these words:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I tell you? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it quickly collapsed, and great was the ruin of that house.”
In this text, Jesus was teaching those who had gathered to hear him about the difference between paying him “lip-service” and truly living in obedience to his word. The parable illustration Jesus chose was a story centered on two builders, one wise and one…well…not so much. The wise builder built his house upon a rock foundation. It was firm and strong. When the storm floods arouse, and the river burst against it, that house stood unshaken because of its firm foundation. The less wise builder built his house without first laying a firm foundation, and when the raging waters burst against it, the scriptures teach us it fell; and great was the ruin of that house!
I hope it is obvious to each of us that Jesus was using the analogy of the foundation of a building to illustrate the importance of the foundation of faith that we lay for ourselves as his believers and followers. He admonishes us to be wise, and to build our lives upon a firm faith foundation that will withstand the traumatic emotional and spiritual storms that arise; just as houses built upon firm foundations can withstand high winds and heavy floods of stormy weather. If we pay Jesus only lip-service, calling him Lord and then going about doing our own thing in the world, like the foolish builder in Jesus’ parable, we will likely find our own foundation sorely lacking when life’s storms come a knocking. The consequence we face may just be the ruin of our spiritual house.
The Apostle Paul, after his personal conversion experience with our risen Lord on the road to Damascus, became an ardent follower of Jesus, and one who strove to live his life in obedience to Jesus’ commandments and teachings. His ministry was all about offering others the grace and peace of Christ that he himself had received, and calling them to live in obedience to all that he was teaching them. Paul understood the critical spiritual implications of a building a firm foundation of faith. That is why Paul shared this lesson with the Corinthian Church:
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Let each builder choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.”
There it is, laid out very plainly by Paul for us, my friends. Christ Jesus is our strong and firm good foundation. There is no other or better foundation upon which we can build our spiritual house, our faith-life, than upon Christ Jesus, our Lord. Our lesson from Timothy for today reminds us that building earthly riches and living according to the values of this world will not build us the firm spiritual foundation for our eternal life in God’s kingdom that we need. As the Hymn states, “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand; all other ground is sinking sand.” Only our faith in Christ and our commitment to living a life of obedience to him will have lasting and eternal kingdom ramifications. These are the attributes that will bring his mercy, kindness, peace with justice, and forgiveness to our needy world; firming and strengthening our own eternal spiritual foundation in the process. This, dear friends in Christ, is the only life that truly is life.
Poet Robert Frost, in his famous Poem “The Road Not Taken,” makes a very astute claim about his choice to travel down that road. Frost states:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The way of obediently following our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, living according to his will for our lives, is indeed the spiritual road less taken. It is also the road that leads us to the building of strong and firm spiritual foundations upon which our eternal kingdom homes will stand. So let us not be foolish builders who live only for today, but those who go forth to build firm spiritual foundations upon Christ Jesus, our Rock and our Redeemer, so that we will have strong and eternal homes for our lives both now and in the kingdom to come. Amen.