In the early years of my marriage, I was ruled by self-centeredness, envy, and manly pride. I was so slow to see that my selfishness was hurting the ones I most loved—my wife Kaye and young son Jonathan. Such a foolish builder! In His kindness, God pulled back the curtain on my sin, and repentance and healing followed. I am very, very thankful for His intervention.
So forty years on, do I still wrestle with the same weaknesses and temptations? Absolutely. My problem is that I want to build on MY OWN foundation. But as a Christ-follower, I also want to serve and please my Father who sent His Son to pay the awful price for my irrational rebellion.
So how do we continue to build wisely over time? Jesus explains in the closing illustration of His Sermon on the Mount.
— If we listen to what He says, we build on bedrock.
— If we practice what He teaches, we build on bedrock.
— If we trust in His power and sufficiency as hardships come, we build on bedrock.
So to make progress, we have to pay attention. We have to practice. We have to trust. And that takes time. We have to learn about our own weaknesses, often through failure. We have to gain maturity by enduring hardship and learn patience through disappointment. We have to learn that the progress is not all down to us—that we don’t labor alone, or just in our own strength.
As we listen, practice and trust over time, we grow to enjoy the companionship of Christ. We grow to depend more fully on the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We learn to value and enjoy the company and encouragement of other believers. We increasingly see ourselves, others, and the world around us through the compassionate lens of the gospel. Our hearts are softened to the needs of others, and we find joy in serving.
Although we continue to struggle, we learn to rest in the absolute certainty that the One who began the good work in us will see it to completion—for His glory, and for our good.
Written by Milt Dodson