In the Parable of the Two Builders (Matthew 7:24-27), Jesus teaches the importance of building your house on solid ground. We’re all building our lives (our houses) on something. When everything is going well and life is great, a weak or shaky foundation won’t reveal itself. But how often is everything going great? In the real world, stress, anxiety, problems, and struggles come at us almost daily if not hourly. Those are the times when the winds are howling and the rain is beating down on our houses. Those are also the times when we will become keenly aware of how firm and sure our foundation is – or isn’t. Let’s look at Jesus’ teaching here in Matthew 7 to learn how we can build our lives on solid ground.
The Parable of the Two Builders – Matthew 7:24-27
In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus states that those who hear His words AND do them are wise builders. They have built their homes on rock-solid foundations. The winds howl, the rains come – even a flood comes – but the house stands firm. Those who hear His words, but fail to live by them are foolish builders. They may build the grandest of houses, but they sit on a shaky foundation. I live in North Carolina where we get more than our fair share of severe weather, with hurricanes, tropical storms, and even a few Nor’easters. After a storm, I often wonder why some homes in a neighborhood look fine while others are nearly destroyed. Let’s flesh Jesus’ home-building analogy out a bit.
What is This House We’re Building?
The “house” we are building is a metaphor for our whole lives. It represents our faith, our vocation or job, our relationships, our health, etc. Notice the entire house must rest on a solid foundation, not just a few parts. It’s very easy for us to compartmentalize our lives without even being aware of it. Instead of an organic whole, our lives look more like colorful pie charts with hard lines dividing the sections.
We go to church on Sundays, and we may even participate in a weekly Bible study or small group. A daily quiet time of study and prayer is part of our routine. We feel like that “slice of our pie” is strong. We’ve checked the boxes, we are “doing fine” there. And then we consciously or unconsciously leave Jesus in His pie slice. We move on to our vocational slice, our parenting slice, or our recreational slice, and leave our faith completely out. It’s as though we don’t think Jesus has anything to do with those areas. But He has everything to do with them!
What’s Threatening Our House?
Let’s look back at our text (Matthew 7:24-27) – Jesus mentions three threats to our houses: rains, floods, and winds. What might these things look like in our everyday lives?
Rains can vary greatly – they can be a foggy drizzle that sucks the joy out of our day. They can be light – we may need an umbrella, but we can still go about our business. Or they can be out and out downpours that we can’t even see through, complete with terrifying thunder and lightning. Taken together these are the everyday troubles of life. Some troubles are small, persistent and annoying. Some are more troublesome. And some storms are swift, unexpected, and overwhelming.
Floods are obviously times when an all-out life threatening disaster is coming at us: a catastropic illness, the death of a loved one, a divorce, a job loss, financial ruin. We are in real danger of being swept off our feet and drowned.
Winds I see as “words.” Words that have great power to either build up or tear down. The words that beat against our houses are things like thoughtless remarks from a friend, a harsh rebuke from a boss, a heartless, cowardly attack online by an internet troll. Or maybe worst of all, the negative, defeating self-talk we subject ourselves to all day long.
Jesus tells us that hearing and doing His words will empower us to withstand these forces. He promises that our houses will not fall. I especially love what it says in Luke 6:48 (a parallel account of Jesus teaching this parable). Not only will our houses not be destroyed, they won’t even be shaken! Now that is a firm foundation!
Is Faith Just a Part of Our Life or Something Else?
Back to our “piece of the pie” analogy. Faith is not a “slice of our pie” or just a part of our lives. Faith is the key, foundational element in our lives. If we think about it like a real pie (mmmm pie!), it’s like the top and bottom crust. No matter what you fill a pie with or how you bake it, a lousy crust makes a lousy pie.
Nowadays it’s easy to skimp on piecrust and many people take that route. Most people believe the lie that homemade piecrust is “too hard” and “not worth the effort”. They use whisper-thin frozen crusts that deliver all the flavor and mouthfeel of a cardboard box. Or they use a refrigerated crust so full of weird stuff that it tastes like the plastic bag it came in. They put in a lot of effort into making a pie that will never be as delicious it could be.
Similarly, many people believe the lie that growing and maturing in faith is “too hard” or “not worth the effort”. It’s just for people who are in professional ministry. Or maybe the lie you are believing is that the Bible is only relevant to certain areas of your life. It’s not applicable to the “real world”, nitty-gritty, everyday stuff. And thus, you are building a life that isn’t really all it could be.
The truth is, however, that with the right recipe and a little practice, piecrust is absolutely a skill anyone can master. And it is beyond worth making that effort. Just keep making pie. You’ll get better and better at it, and your loved ones will happily devoure your messy early attemps. Anyone would rather eat a pie that looks a mess but tastes fabulous than one that looks fabulous but tastes like nothing. True or true? 😁
Likewise digging into, learning, and applying the Word of God is something anyone can do and oh-so-worth the effort. It takes practice, effort, and good teachers to help you along the way. And as Matthew 7:24-27 reminds us, it’s the difference between a life that stands and one that collapses in on itself. There is no comparison between a life founded on the Word of God and a life foundering without it.
So Where Does Faith Fit Into Our Lives?
A stable, solid home needs a firm, sound foundation. Likewise, a good pie, a beautiful pie, a truly delicious pie needs a sturdy, well-made crust. You have to make sure the edges are tightly rolled together and crimped shut, sealing everything else securely inside. If you don’t, your filling will boil over and fill your home with the delightful smell of burning sugar. If there’s one sound you don’t want to hear when you’re baking, it’s the smoke alarm! And while the edges need to be crimped tight, you also need to cut a few openings in the top to “let off steam”. If you don’t, the pressure will build up inside your pie and KABLOOIE!
Our faith is not a slice or section of our lives. It’s what undergirds and supports our entire existence. It’s what tightly surrounds and safely contains our whole selves. And in times of pressure, it’s the thing through which we can escape, let off some steam, and “keep it all together”. Our faith is the framework thru which we show the world what is delightful, delicious, and fruitful inside us. Without it, we’re an ooey-gooey mess just waiting to boil over and set off the smoke alarm.
Are you building your life on a solid foundation, a life worth living? Are you baking a pie worth eating? 😉 The foundations of our “real” homes need constant checking and occasional repairs to ensure our homes are secure. Likewise, our spiritual foundation needs vigilant attention. We need to be daily fortifying and strengthening it with time in the Word and prayer – not just reading and learning, but applying as well. And occasionally we have to step back and see if anything has shifted – if our house has started to slide off its firm foundation. Are little cracks of insecurity, anxiety, bitterness, or anger showing? Are we leaning towards things we shouldn’t?
Remember, the Bible calls Jesus the Chief Cornerstone. He knows all about setting a secure foundation, and He’s also an expert in repairing and resetting a foundation that needs help. As Matthew 7:24-27 encourages us, let’s build our lives on the Word – it’s a foundation that will never change, never give way, never let us down.
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