‘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.’ – Matthew 7:24
Wise and foolish builders: The bible’s three little pigs
In some ways, the parable of the wise and foolish builders is like the tale of the Three Little Pigs.
The first two little pigs build their houses out of straw and twigs, and the third little pig builds his house out of bricks. When the big bad wolf arrives to ‘huff and puff and blow their houses down’, the first two houses fall to the ground, but the brick house remains stable however hard the wind blows. Therefore, I think we can conclude that the third little pig is wise and the other two downright foolish.
In the parable told by Jesus in Matthew, the story is much the same. The foolish man builds his house on the sand and the wise man builds his house on the rock. When the rain pelts down and the strong wind blows, the house on the sand falls down with a ‘great crash’. On the other hand, the house on the rocks remains steadfast however hard the storm blew.
The ease with this parable is to forget what it is actually telling us to do, and simply relax and enjoy a good story. Is it telling us to always build our houses on rocks? If you think this is the answer then you are far from wise. What really is the subtext Jesus is trying to put across?
It is a metaphor for our faith.
Jesus teaches us that if we build our lives on the foundations of God’s truth then we will be able to persevere even when the storms of life try to topple us over the edge, consequently leaving our faith in pieces. If our foundation is built merely on our own worldly desires and wisdom, then when we are tested we will fail like the man who built his house on the sand (and the first two little pigs!). However, because of Jesus’s death and resurrection we know that if we build our lives on Jesus’s foundation we can live in hope.
What is sand like? It is soft and delicate, in little pieces, and moves beneath your feet when you walk on it. When we all too easily build our lives on whatever we want, it is like standing on the sand as your toes sink into it. However hard you try, it is difficult to remain totally on the surface. When life is tough and things get on top of us, the foundation we are standing on becomes soft and we begin to fall. Nothing makes sense as everything seems to fall to pieces in front of our eyes. We become delicate and there is nothing left to hold onto.
The world is like sand.
So what is the best way to describe a rock? The first adjectives that spring to mind are strong, sturdy and unbreakable. If we allow Jesus into our lives it is like standing on a rock. We can rely on him in every aspect of our lives to remain strong, knowing that he will not let us fall. How can we fall if Jesus is the foundation holding us up? If we devote ourselves to Him our faith can become unbreakable. However hard the strong winds blow and the rain comes down, our faith will remain sturdy and immovable.
Jesus is like a rock.
When we decide to build our lives around Jesus we begin to gain wisdom. We are guided towards the right decisions so as not to become foolish like the man who built his house on the sand. This parable is at the end of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus has just laid down the law about how we are expected to live. He has taught us how to pray and be truly blessed. He ends with this parable summarising the two options we have to go on living. We can ignore what he has just said and carry on the way we are. Alternatively, we can listen and take on board the wisdom he has just provided us with to go forth and build our lives on the rock.
Let us aim to be like the third little pig.