I grew up going to church, so for as long as I can remember, I’ve known the song of the Wise and Foolish Builders:
The wise man built his house upon the rock.
The foolish man built his house upon the sand.
The rains came down and the floods came up.
The house on the rock stood firm.
The house on the sand went splat!
This children’s song comes from a teaching of Jesus found in Matthew 7 and Luke 6. And while that teaching was turned into a song for children, it’s truth still holds for us grown-ups.
Often, when I’ve read these verses or heard sermons on this passage, its the contrasts of the verses that jump out and are drawn out. And there definitely are some major contrasts.
The first, and probably most striking to me, is that in Matthew 7, one man is described as “wise” and the other as “foolish”. What makes each one so?
The wise man chooses to build on the rock, while the foolish chooses to build on the sand. Okay. Cool. But unless we’re planning on getting into the house construction business, this doesn’t really mean a whole lot for us, right?
Jesus said the one who hears His words and puts them into practice is like the wise man who built his house on the rock, while the one who hears His words and does not put them into practice is like the foolish man who built house on the sand.
So, what does this mean for us?
Jesus spoke these words during His famous “Sermon On the Mount”, and while there were crowds nearby, He was specifically teaching His disciples (Matthew 5:1-2). These words were not for the one who denied and didn’t believe in Jesus, but for those who called Him Rabbi (Teacher) and Lord.
That is why in the beginning of the passage found in Luke, Jesus says, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?” And we find similar words in the verses preceding the account found in Matthew.
Jesus was teaching His followers that simply saying that Jesus is Lord does not mean He is the Lord of one’s heart. Simply doing things in Jesus’ name does not mean one knows Jesus with their heart.
Those who hear Jesus’ words and put them into practice are wise. They are the ones who dig deep into a relationship with Jesus, who build their life on the foundation of the Rock who is Jesus. It’s not just saying Jesus is Lord, it’s living with Him as Lord. It’s not just doing things with His Name as the label, it’s His Name, His very character, that guides and drives all doings.
It’s not about us and what we do and how good we are, it’s about Jesus.
Choosing to hear and follow His words is true wisdom. And hearing and following His words gives us a right and true perspective and foundation from which to live. One that doesn’t crumble when the storms of life hit. In our own doing, we can fail. As hard as we try to hold it all together, we still find things falling apart. We mess up. We make mistakes. So if our own doing and goodness is our foundation, it won’t hold. And we’ll find ourselves striving in vain, getting worn out, and giving up after one too many let downs and failures.
Jesus must truly be Lord, our all surrendered to Him. He must be Rabbi, the One whose Word we learn and follow. He must be the Rock, the foundation on which we build our lives. And when this is so, any storm can be weathered.
But we must be willing to dig deep. There are some major contrasts between the two men, but there are some similarities as well, one being that both men built a house. Both worked and put forth effort. We each must choose where our effort will go. Will we take time out of our days to learn God’s Word and seek Him in prayer? Will we put His Word into practice, even when it is uncomfortable and goes against what we want? Will we strive on our own and rely on self, or will our work be trusting and leaning on Jesus?
When we work to build on the foundation of Christ, daily seeking Him, knowing Him, and loving Him more and more, there is rest and there is reward and there is rejoicing for us, because we have relationship with Jesus, and in Him can stand during any storm.