A Tale of Two Houses

Time to read: 4 mins

Familiarity breeds contempt.

This is very true, as I found out last Sunday.

My pastor referred to the parable of the wise and foolish builders (see Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49). I instantly thought ‘yep…I know what that is all about’ and moved on. It was only later that evening that I reflected on this and realised how easy it is for us to pass over familiar and well-known passages of Scripture without thinking what they really mean and what they have to teach us at that particular moment.

This is a bad habit to get into.

It’s particularly ironic with the parable of the wise and foolish builders. Remember what Jesus says, ‘everyone that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.’ (Matthew 7:26)

When we start to drill down into that particular parable, suddenly we find that there is a lot more in it than that casual ‘understanding’ we think we have.

We all know the story…the wise builder digs down and finds a solid rock to be the foundation for his house. The foolish builder does not bother and builds on the sand. When a storm comes, the house on the rock withstands it, and the builder is safe inside. However, in the same storm, the house built on sand crashes down around the foolish builder.

The meaning is simple…we are all builders, the house is our spiritual life and the salvation of our soul. Those that listen to and apply the teachings of the Bible are wise. They have built their spiritual life on a good foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ. When storms come they stand firm.

The foolish builder does not listen to the words of Jesus. He ignores them, misinterprets them or misapplies them. He has no real foundation, and when the same troubles come, he finds he has nothing real to depend on.

So far, so good, but when you look a bit more closely at this parable, other things become apparent. [Note 1]

A – The wise man had to dig deep!

It was hard work, it required effort. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that if we work hard enough we can save ourselves. What I am saying is that all aspects of the Christian life require effort – whether it’s our personal devotions, bible reading and prayer, whether it’s listening to preaching, whether it’s the daily battle against temptation and sin, whether it’s the striving to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ – as I wrote in Energetic Christianity, ‘There is absolutely nothing in the Bible to suggest that once we are converted, we can sit back in a comfortable armchair, put our feet up and wait to arrive in Heaven.

B – There are many different types of storm!

Maybe it’s trouble and difficulties that come in our daily lives. Maybe it’s sins that plague us. Perhaps it’s doubts about our faith. Help for all these things comes through going back to the Word of God, looking at his promises to his people and the grace he gives through the Lord Jesus Christ. There is also of course the most significant storm of all – our death. This is when we will really prove that we have built on a good foundation, when we have to stand before God and give an account of our lives. Unless we can point to the Lord Jesus as our Saviour then, our house will come crashing down around us for eternity.

C – The two houses looked the same!

On the surface, they were identical. It was the hidden foundations that made all the difference. Many people look like Christians, they play the part well, but underneath they have built on the wrong foundation. Their heart is still corrupt. We’re told, ‘But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.‘ (1 Samuel 16:7)

D – There are a lot of foolish builders!

There are obvious ones like the atheist or the worldly person who says ‘I’m not too bad compared to many people’. Or there are those who think that if there is a God, he’ll let everyone and anyone into heaven because he is a God of love. However, what about those who are outwardly ‘Christian’? The self-righteous person trusting in their own goodness – church or chapel attendance for instance. What about the person relying on the prayers of their godly parents and grandparents? These are all sandy foundations.

Of course, the fundamental teaching of this parable is that the only foundation that will be any good to us in the storms of life and death is the Lord Jesus Christ. People will always try to build on other foundations, but in the end prove them sandy. As Paul writes in Corinthians ‘For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.‘ (1 Corinthians 3:11) However, if we stop and think carefully, there is, as it were, a second layer of teaching in the parable that is very instructive.

So, two things to ask yourself…

  1. Which parts of the Bible do you casually gloss over without much thought? What could you learn if you really took notice?
  2. Are you a wise or a foolish builder? What foundation are you building on? Is it the Lord Jesus Christ?

Note 1:

It is important with parables not to look for meaning in every tiny detail, but rather to look for the overall messages. Some of the details do have meaning, but it is possible to take it too far.

[A00106 – 06/04/2019]

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.