The Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders
Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. -- Matthew 7:24-27
When Christ employed the use of this parable, he had just completed the sermon on the mount. He had been speaking of the spiritual and saving nature of his kingdom. We can perhaps assume that his audience paid attention to his words, but that Christ was aware that many of them would be satisfied with having heard, and would not obey the truths that they had heard, just as many of us do today. The parable, concluding the sermon on the mount, encouraged his audience to apply the message they had heard to their lives, to do something with it.
Even in the foolish builder, there are elements that are commendable. Consider this, about those who are said to be like the foolish builder:
- He was not a neglector of religious things altogether.
- He heard the things that the teacher had to say.
- He paid attention, and understood what was said.
- He was influenced by what he had heard.
- He took some action as a result of what he had heard.
- He selected a site, and built a house, seeing it to completion.
- There is no indication that his house was in any way inferior to the other, except for the foundation.
The foolish builder heard, understood, was interested, and was greatly influenced by the teachings of the Lord, and these were all features that were worthy of commendation. There is much to be said for the foolish builder, but he failed in the things that he did not do.
- Rather than accurately calculating the trials that his house would endure, he planned only for the present, and for fair weather.
- He neglected to select a safe and secure foundation.
As a land of hills and brooks, Palestine was prone to floods, so it was important to select a building site that was sheltered from the storms, and on a base that wouldn't be washed away in the rain. Sand, in fair weather, might appear firm and solid, but it was fragile and undependable.