In Matthew 7:24–27, Jesus tells us about someone’s house: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Jesus goes on to say that when the rains, winds, and floods came, the house survived. I’ve often wondered what style of house Jesus is describing in this passage. In all likelihood, the ancient people who heard Jesus teaching that day would have thought of their mud and clay homes. Perhaps you think of your childhood home or the house you live in now.
Everyone’s house is different. Even ancient mud and clay homes differed from one another. They had different sizes, different decorations, and different locations. But in Jesus’ metaphor, the house is meant to point to one’s life. This house is something we’re always building as we become who we are. What’s more, our lives are different from one another. Therefore, every life represented as a house in this passage will look different. We Christians are born in different time periods, with different families, different occupations, and different callings.
Jesus doesn’t comment on the style or particular qualities of the house in this passage. As a result, He doesn’t comment on exactly what our life looks like. What He emphasizes is what our life is built on. The house of the wise man is built on the rock. The wise man builds on the rock because he hears and does Jesus’ words (v. 24). So, regardless of what our house looks like—who we are and what our lives consist of—we’re called to build on the same foundation. We’re called to be hearers and doers of God’s Word. That doesn’t mean that what our lives look like doesn’t matter, but what Jesus is emphasizing here is the foundation. The foundation is the thing that imparts stability to everything else.
Contrast that with the foolish man, who also has a house: “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” (v. 26). I used to imagine the foolish man’s house as a dilapidated shack, but the text doesn’t say what kind of house he owns either. Perhaps, instead, it’s a very ornate home with large, well-furnished interiors. Or perhaps it’s your average mud and clay home that looks similar to everyone else’s home. Regardless of what it looks like, the foolish man’s house falls because he built it on the sand—he heard Jesus, but he didn’t heed His Word.
We all build our individual houses, and they are all different. Looks can be deceiving, but what matters is the foundation. Are we hearing what Jesus says but not doing it? Or are we actually doing it? Let us pray that we will be faithful to build our houses—whatever they look like depending on our own particular circumstances, talents, and callings—on Jesus and His Word. It is only through building on this sure foundation that our lives will have any sense of true stability, both now and forever.