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The story of the wise and foolish builders is Jesus' final point in his now famous 'Sermon on the Mount'. Throughout this lengthy sermon he has been teaching us the radical identity of those who truly believe in him and drawing out the radical inner meaning that is at the centre of a genuine God-honouring lifestyle.

Here at the end of his message he hammers home the urgent necessity of making sure we belong to the kingdom of heaven. Here, at the end of a whole chapter commending discernment he is warning us to make the right judgement, to exercise acute discernment, regarding our own personal spiritual standing.

  • He has taught us that we must get ourselves in order before we start trying to fix our brother (7:3-5);
  • He has taught us that we must make judgements when communicating God's truth (7:6)
  • He has instructed us to make a decisive judgement about which way of life we follow: we must enter the 'narrow gate', not the wide popular one (7:13-14);
  • He has warned us to watch out for false teachers, whose deception is so subtle that it is almost impossible to detect them (7:15-20);
  • He has cautioned us not to be deceived by the outward trappings of religion, that we must remember that religious words and activities can come from a godless person, and that the working of miracles does not automatically identify genuine faith (7:21-23).

Then, in this parable, Jesus challenges us: are you building your life on the right foundation? Is it a foundation that can survive life's storms that blow up at any time with devastating force? Can it stand in the agonies of suffering? Can it remain standing when Satan has battered it - pushing, poking, prodding, pressuring you to give up your faith and do what Job's wife advised him - to curse God and die? Will it survive the pressures and subtleties of false teaching? And, importantly, can it stand that devastating and final storm, which is the judgement of God?

True faith survives the pressure, not because it is strong faith, not because it great faith, but because it is faith grounded in Jesus Christ and his words. Temptation in the Bible, is only rarely the temptation to commit a moral sin: it is overwhelmingly intense pressure to give up one's faith in and commitment to the Lord. True faith survives both life's pressures and God's judgement - because it is faith whose focus and object has ultimate, absolute and permanent worth: Jesus Christ.

Here in this parable of the two houses, or rather the two foundations, is the answer to the choices we have been commanded to make in the preceding verses.

Scripture: Matthew 7:24-27

Copyright Rosemary Bardsley 2004, 2010