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 7:26-27)
Christ compared two builders – a wise builder and an unwise builder. The wise builder heard the words of Christ and put them into practice. He believed and obeyed, and the result was a life that was prepared for eternity and for this earthly life as well. If you want to prepare for this life, first get prepared for eternity, and then you will be prepared to live this life. This is the recurrent theme of the Sermon on the Mount: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).
But the unwise builder also teaches us – it is the helpful instruction on how not to do something. We could also subtitle this Bible study, “How to Be Unprepared for Living Life Today,” for he was certainly unprepared for the storms of life. Or, “How to Ruin Your Life,” for surely that is what happened to the man.
First, ignore your life’s foundation
Several years ago I had a discussion with a businessman about the value of formal education. Though a Christian he considered that the only truly valuable education for today’s world was technical in nature. As we discussed the topic, though we agreed on the helpfulness of technical education, I stressed that technology can never be the main thing or the only thing in life. This type of thinking is common in today’s world and is at the root of so many problems: the assumption that all life consists of is making money and gaining power and possessions.
Christ said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36). Life is more than just possessions, and the foundation of life must be about things that relate to character and to God. It is a very different feeling to gain some possession unethically and immorally, than to gain something by genuinely and honestly earning it. How can you really enjoy anything you gain if you know you did not gain it honestly?
But this is commonly thought in today’s world – that only technology matters in this universe. And we are turning people into robots without souls or spirits, without purpose or any personal knowledge of God, and thereby without the true ability to understand the value of anything. Many in the world are like this foolish builder, who think that spiritual foundations do not matter, only how nice the house looks.
Do not take the teachings of Christ seriously
The man shrugged off the teachings of Christ. Now, this parable is not about that person who never heard of Jesus, who never heard the gospel. It is about the person who had the privilege of hearing of God’s love, and perhaps even growing up in the church. But he walked away from it. We might say that this was his attitude toward the entire Bible, to consider it unimportant. Whenever the word of God is proclaimed the Spirit of God gives an inner witness to the listener, urging him to turn and believe in Christ (John 16:8-11). So this is a sin against Holy Spirit Himself.
Consider wealth an impregnable fortress
This man put a higher priority on possessions than on foundations. He built a house, or he built his life, but never considered the foundation that it rested upon. He imagined that wealth could build an impregnable fortress. The Bible warns us, “Riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations” (Prov 27:24). There is an ancient Chinese proverb, “Wealth does not pass three generations.”
Be unprepared for the inevitable
Storms in life are completely unavoidable. They come in all shapes and sizes, from storms of illness, to storms of divorce, of betrayals, of financial disasters, of heartbreaking loss of loved ones, and your own personal crisis of the purpose of life. Many come to the end of their lives and only then stare into eternity and have a crisis of personal significance, and a great “So what?” hangs over their life. But even if you escape all of these – and no man ever escapes them all – you still will face the storm of your own personal death.
The Bible tells the story of the rich farmer who thought only of himself, was selfish and ungenerous, and made no preparation for eternity. Yet in the aftermath of an incredibly successful year with a bountiful crop, when his thoughts were all obsessed with increasing his business, building bigger barns, God said to him, “You fool! Tonight your soul will be required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” (Luke 12:20).
The end result was disaster
This man was unprepared for life because he was unprepared for eternity. The Bible says: “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity” (Prov. 24:16). The first thing that should be prepared in building a house is the foundation, and the first thing that should be prepared for living life today should be the inner strengthening of our souls – especially the strengthening of our souls in Christ.
The experiences of life are all remarkably similar. The Bible says: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind” (1 Cor. 10:13a). The thing that happens to one, happens to all others in some shape or form. And our souls are also remarkably similar – each human soul is made to believe in and to worship and to follow Jesus Christ. Any life can become a disaster, and any life can become a blessing. If you will build your life on Christ the Rock, you will find the perspective, purpose, and strength you need to overcome every challenge.