Imagine you are a newlywed looking to build your first house with your spouse. As you shop around for a prospective builder, you find one whose work you like, but whose price seems a bit high. As you and your spouse continue to cycle through prospective builders, you keep struggling to find one who can build what you want within the budget you’ve set.
That all changes one day when you find a builder who looks far more promising than the rest. After looking at your list of desired features, he assures you he can build your dream house under your desired budget. He even tells you there will be enough left over for a pool in the backyard! He tells you the other builders you’ve spoken with are just ripping you off.
When you walk through his model home, you are in awe of the beautiful vaulted ceilings, the ornate woodwork, the stunning granite countertops, and the elegant oak and marble floors. As you compare his proposed price to that of the other builders, the decision seems like a no-brainer. You sign a contract, secure financing, and shortly thereafter, you receive word that the ground has been broken and construction on your new home is underway.
You can barely contain your excitement. For the first time in your life, the two of you are going to have a home to call your own. You lie awake at night dreaming of the family dinners you will enjoy some day, kids playing in the yard, the Christmas parties you will host together, and the life that will be shared in your new establishment.
Several weeks into the project, the builder calls you to let you know it is ahead of schedule and under budget, as promised. Excited to see where things are, you grab your spouse and drive across town to see the progress for yourselves. As you pull into the new neighborhood, most homes being built appear to be in the beginning stages, but yours is much further along than the others. The framing is up, the siding is hung, and the floorboards have even been installed, meaning you can walk through the house and begin to envision the layout!
As the builder gives you a tour, you are blown away by the efficiency of his work. It’s all coming together even better than you expected! However, when you go down the stairs into the basement, things take a massive turn for the worse. To your dismay, you find that instead of a solid foundation, the house is sitting on nothing but the ground below it. In a moment, your heart sinks and you get this terribly uneasy feeling.
You ask the builder how he could possibly ignore such a critical part of the homebuilding process, hoping for a reasonable explanation. He begins to explain that in order to give you what you wanted within your budget, he had to leave some things out—all the while assuring you it would be fine. Sensing your frustration, he tells you to come back tomorrow to see the new state-of-the-art windows he is going to install. But you don’t care about this at all. You are completely deflated. You feel cheated—and understandably so. This man had sold you on the features of the house while ignoring the most critical part—the foundation.
This scenario is preposterous. Would any of us ever even consider hiring a builder like that? Of course not! But the far more important question is this: Are you that builder? When it comes to building our faith, Jesus warned us that many will build without a foundation.
Near the beginning of His ministry, He told this parable:
“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 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. 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. 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.”—Matthew 7:24–27 ESV
On the surface, both men appeared to have built well. However, when the storms came, the strength of each man’s foundation was truly tested and revealed for what it was.
Now, it’s easy for each of us to assume we are the wise builder, but we shouldn’t be so quick to do so. The difference between sand and rock is far more subtle than you may think—one is simply small particles of the other, conforming to whatever presses against it. Right now in our culture, there is an increasing tendency to focus on parts of God’s Word we find comfortable while ignoring parts that are hard to live out or may offend someone. We end up looking to God only for what we want, for what makes us feel good—but neglect looking to Him for what we need, which is a transformed life that conforms to His image. When we do that, we end up with a faulty foundation.
When things are good, it is hard to spot the difference. But when the storms come—and rest assured, storms will come—your foundations will be revealed for what they truly are. When that time comes, will you have built on sand, having merely listened to Jesus’s words? Or will you have built a solid foundation upon a rock by putting Jesus’s words into practice?
The apostle James soberly warns us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” —James 1:22 NIV
In other words, don’t build on a foundation of sand. You would never hire a builder like that, so don’t be one. In the end, you are only cheating yourself by building something that will not last. Instead, embrace Jesus’s words fully, incorporating them into every aspect of your life, and build your faith on a foundation that will stand the test of time.