The Parable of the Two Builders
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”–Matthew 7:24-27
Jesus demanded genuine obedience to His Kingdom law. A mere verbal declaration of “Lord, Lord” will not do (Matt. 7:21).
Kingdom citizens must have a righteousness which obeys from the heart with pure motives. Jesus provides three sets of contrasts to demonstrate the absolute necessity of obedience in this chapter. He gives man just two ways to choose from with only two possible destinations. He talked about two types of trees. Those which bear good fruit and those which bear evil fruit. In the previous paragraph there are those who obey and those who practice iniquity. Next he gives only two types of builders: the wise and the foolish.
The final lesson in the sermon is one asking the disciples to consider how they are building their lives. Everyone is building some sort of life. Paul said, “let each man take heed how he builds” (I Cor. 3:10,11). Every builder must make a choice as to the materials, the foundation, the location, etc. Foolish choices can be very costly.
✓ Building Differently
At first glance, this parable shows everything be to similar between the two builders. They both had the same desire to build a house. Both houses would have looked upright, and solid. The outward appearance of the house would have been the same. Both homes were tested by the same storm.
Appearances can be quite deceptive. Judas Iscariot looked just like the other disciples yet his life was focused on mammon and he became the “son of perdition.” The Pharisees’ standard of righteousness appeared to the common people to be the highest. Yet, it was built upon the motive to be seen of men. The broad way looks safe and popular. The evil tree looks healthy. The workers of lawlessness appear to be faithful.
Two men may attend the same church, sit in the same pew, sing the same songs, listen to the same sermon, say “amen” to the same prayers, put the same amount in the collection plate. They go home and build their lives on totally different foundations.
✓ Building Upon the Right Foundation
The dissimilarities of the buildings were not very apparent until you looked at the foundation they were built upon. One built upon the rock foundation while the other built upon the shifting sands. A sand castle may look detailed and beautiful. It may have taken hours and many laborers to construct it. It may be large and fancy. But when the tide comes in, the castle comes down. Many today are building their lives on the deceitful sands of riches which can be stolen, the passing pleasures of sin, the soon forgotten applause of men, the carnal wisdom of men, fickle friendships, fleeting health, etc.
The correct foundation is one that is stable and strong. The rock which cannot be moved by the storms of life. Rock in this context refers to a firm, massive slab of bed rock. God is the rock of our salvation. Jesus is the true foundation of the Kingdom (1 Cor. 3:11). Remember the Prudential commercial’s slogan: “Get a piece of the rock”. This promoted the company as one which could provide long term financial security.
✓ Building Wisely
According to this parable there is a wise way to build and a foolish way. In Luke’s account of this parable, he adds the detail of the wise builder “digging deep, and laying his foundation a rock” (Lk. 6:48). As Gregory said, “God is not to be found on the surface”. To reach the foundation one has to search by digging till they find it. The foolish man did not have to do as much work. He did very little in foundation prep.
The wise builder will not rush the job. The fool is constantly in a rush to get things done. He will take short cuts and look for results. He has no time for foundation preparation. He is not very patient. A wise disciple of the Master will take time to read the Bible and look at the blueprint on how to build. He will seek the true Foundation which is Christ before he begins to drive the first nail.
A wise builder will consult the authorities. He will check the appropriate building codes. He will carefully heed the architect’s plans. Details in the specifications are not a waste of his time. He knows he does not know everything and needs expert help.
The wise man will build his house to last. Durability of the structure is more important than a temporary dwelling. The rich fool who had a bumper crop was thinking of building temporary barns to hold provisional goods for his passing pleasures. God said to him, “‘Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Lk. 12:20-21).
✓ Building While Listening
Action must be accompanied by paying attention to instructions When putting together a bike or swing set as a birthday gift, some fathers just start assembling without reading the instructions. This often results in wasting time and having to start all over again. Jesus has preached this sermon to His disciples. It will be of no practical good if they run off and try to build the Kingdom without paying attention to the Designer’s instructions. By taking action without instruction, one believes he will not be inconvenienced by the simple information he thinks he already knows.
Sometimes a person will listen carefully to the sermon from God’s Word. They will agree they must do something. They go home and take a nap in the afternoon and skip Sunday evening worship to watch a ball game. Then they get up on Monday morning rush to work, so they can focus on the job all day to make money. By the time they get to Friday, all they want to do is relax. Sunday morning the process begins anew without a clue as to what they were going to do for the Lord based on last Sunday morning’s long forgotten sermon. James describes this process, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (Js. 1:22-25). James goes on to say “faith without works is dead” (Js. 2:17). But faith comes from hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17). Christ has always required hearing and then obeying.
✓ Building to Endure the Storms of Life
The true test of any building’s foundation will be the storms and earthquakes. Into every life, some storms must blow. Everyday in the kingdom, a citizen’s life will not be filled with fair weather and sunshine. There are things which are sent to test and try our building. A wise man will indeed build upon the foundation who has the power to command, “Please, be still!” and even the winds and the waves obey His will. There will come times of temptation, periods of persecution, days of disease and death, etc. Proper preparation for such tests need to be done well in advance.
Through the history of the Bible all those who put their faith and build their lives on the foundation of the shifting sand crash in the face of adversity. Whereas the wise put their trust and lives in the hand of the Rock of their salvation passing through the storms, such as, Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Peter, Paul, etc.
✓ Building in View of Final Inspection
Before a home can be inhabited, a building inspector must check the building to see if the structure is within the specifications of the building code and thus deemed safe. Paul informs us that there will be a final inspection of all God builders and what they have built. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).
Throughout the sermon, Jesus has alluded to this day of reckoning. Those who are angry with a brother without just cause “shall be in danger of the judgment” (5:22). Calling others “fool” will result in being “in danger of hell fire” (5:23). Jesus warns of the danger of the “whole body to be cast into hell” (5:30). Choosing the broad way “leads to destruction” (7:13). The trees which bear evil fruit will be “cut down and thrown into the fire” (7:19). Concerning the disobedient on the day of Judgment, Jesus warned “in that day…I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (7:21,23). Every Gospel sermon should end with a warning of eternal destruction to the one who rejects it.
When the house falls the soul is lost. This is a great fall. There will be no recovering from this disaster. After a great flood resulting in a loss of property and homes, TV reporters will interview the victims. Many will declare on camera, “I guess we are just going to stay here and rebuild.” After the great fall of the fools house, there will not be another chance to rebuild.
Be wise in your choice of foundation. Be careful what you plant. “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted” (Matt. 15:13). The unstable denominations of men do not offer a stable foundation to build spiritual houses. Remember, “unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it” (Ps. 127:1).
– Daniel R. Vess