“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalms 127:1 ESV).
Yesterday’s post was, admittedly, harsh. It was the truth, but it was not easy to hear. God desires for all of us to live holy lives, set apart for His will. ““You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine” (Leviticus 20:26 ESV). “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).
But God does not expect us to “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps”. The entirety of the Law was put in place so that we would recognize that we need Jesus, that we could never be holy and acceptable to God without Him.
There’s the illusion that we have control of our lives. Before we came to know Christ, we supposed that our lives were our own. Perhaps we did a lot of good, and not a lot that was bad. Perhaps the good far out-weighed the bad. It was irrelevant. We were slaves to sin. In fact, we could do nothing but sin! “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:23 ESV).
While we were busy building the houses known as our lives, we were unaware that we were building on the sand. Jesus said, “And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand” (Matthew 7:26 ESV). We proceed oblivious to the fact that our foundation is faulty, and our house in peril.
Hebrews 11 pays tribute to Abraham’s faith. He followed God’s leading, “‘For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10 ESV).
When we surrender control of our lives to God, allowing Him to decide where we build, when we build, how we build, and what we build, what our houses will look like, our vanity loses its grip. The pressure to succeed fades away. We recognize the truth of Jesus’ words, “…apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).
Psalm 127:1 identifies our dependence upon God for all things. It makes it clear that we have the right and ability to build our own “houses”. We can make all of our own decisions. We can live as though we are the center of the universe. But if we choose to do so, we do so to no good end.
In Greek mythology, Sisyphus was punished in Hell by having to roll a huge boulder up a hill. Every time he got near the top the boulder would roll back down, and he would have to start over. Living our lives as we want, doing what is right in our own eyes (Deuteronomy 12:8, Proverbs 21:2, and others), is futile. We can never achieve the life God desires for us by our own effort.
Spend some mindful time this weekend considering your life. In what areas are you trying to do it on your own? Where are you turning your back on God for the sake of your independence? Who is building your house?
Blessings on your weekend!