At the end of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (recorded in the Gospel of Matthew chapters 5-7), we find the well-known illustration of two men who built their houses on very different foundations. I say well-known, which is probably only true if you went to Sunday school as a child and learned the “Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock” song. It’s a good song with a good message, but it isn’t really making the same primary point Jesus is making with the illustration.
The moral of the song is that we should “build [our] house on the Lord Jesus Christ.” I couldn’t agree more with that message. But, again, that isn’t really the point of Jesus’ illustration in Matthew 7:24-27. Jesus isn’t comparing foundations as much as he is comparing the wise man with the fool.
Here at the culmination of some of Jesus’ most challenging teachings and instructions, he gives us an illustration to show how foolish it is to simply hear his words but not act on them. But isn’t it so much easier just to sit and hear Jesus? Isn’t it more comfortable to listen to his teachings, to imagine the great works that he did, and then go back to our safe routines? Of course that’s the easy way. Just like it’s easier to build on sandy ground without working to prepare a solid foundation. The foundation work isn’t easy or glorious, but it is essential for a structure’s stability and longevity. So it is with lives of faith and mission.
Since we all want to live significant lives for God, we must not only be hearers of the word but doers also (see Deuteronomy 5:1; Romans 2:13; James 1:22). It really isn’t enough to know what pleases God. We have to put our faith and knowledge to work. God has invited us to join with him in ministry. We would be fools to sit back and read our Bibles, worship God on Sunday, and never live the radical lives Jesus described in the Sermon on the Mount. We would be fools. At least, that’s what Jesus said.
Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. (25) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. (26) And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. (27) And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”