In Matthew 7 Jesus tells a slew of parables. At first glance, they may seem like tiny, unrelated vignettes. First we read of logs and specks in eyes and the challenge not to be hypocritical. We have dogs, pearls and pigs, which seems to suggest wise stewardship of our time and resources. We read about knocking and doors; asking and receiving, seeking and finding and then trusting the Father to give good gifts. That leads into the Golden Rule and a story about trees, fruit and false prophets. We read a short bit about the Kingdom of Heaven and then land on the parable of two builders and their houses.
Is it possible to find a common thread in this chapter? Does one exist or is this sermon a goulash of proverbs and riddles?
“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for He was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”
Too often when we read this account, we section it off into six or seven different sermons. What was it about this rambling sermon that left the listeners “astonished?”
I believe the key lies in the parable of the builders. This “Tale of Two Houses” ties together everything that precedes it.
It’s not about the builders.
Many versions of Scripture title this parable “The Two Builders.” This leads many to believe that the distinction lies in the men, not in their foundations. We find this assumption further exaggerated in children’s books about the passage.
Authors and illustrators depict one — the man who built his house on the sand — as lazy, carefree and in a hurry. He slaps together his house with crooked corners and worn boards, then sits sunning in a beach chair with an umbrella in his drink.
The second man — the man who built his house on the rock — is strong, calculated and hard-working. His house comes together over an extended period of time. It sports brick walls, neat windows and solid construction. It looks like a mansion compared to his neighbor’s shack.
But Jesus doesn’t suggest any of this. He doesn’t say one house stood inferior to the other. He doesn’t diminish the work, skill or commitment of the builders. He simply highlights the differing foundations.
It might even be possible that the first builder was a better craftsman than the second. His house might have been larger or made with superior materials. We don’t know and it doesn’t matter because man’s ability alone does not produce success. It doesn’t matter how skilled or determined one is if one’s work is set on an unsure foundation.
Passionate people fill this earth. Intelligent, skilled, talented people cover the planet. But applying those passions to pursuits that do not align with Truth will not garner them salvation.
Building a life on the wrong foundation will never grant security. It doesn’t matter how carefully planned, painstakingly built, or passionately lived.
How does this relate to all the previous parables of this story? Because the Truth changes everything. The right foundation secures everything.
You won’t find what you seek if you knock on the wrong door. You cannot remove the log from your eye if you fail to see it or comprehend the danger of having it there. You won’t know the value of pearls if you fail to understand the nature of pigs. You cannot discern false prophets if you don’t know the Truth.
We run around and work and try to be good, try to earn our righteousness, but all of that, all of what preceded, means nothing without the right foundation. It must be built upon God’s Truths or it will all wash away.
And what is His Truth? GRACE. Love. Compassion. Justice. Holiness. His very character.
When we seek HIM, we find our right foundation. When we trust HIM as the keystone of our lives, we can be sure of our salvation. When we build our lives on HIM, we know that our work is not in vain.
I don’t want to build my life on a foundation of my own making or my own imagination. I want to build my life — the life of my family and my children — on solid Rock.
TALK TO ME. How often do we find security in our own efforts? Such unspoken thoughts feed our pride and distract us from God’s desire to guide and provide. How can we keep our day to day lives centered and built on Him?