Two Builders


The Bible is full of wisdom if you are prepared to look. In fact we quote its wisdom sometimes not even realising where it comes from. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, “the love of money is the root of all evil”, “love your enemies”, “love your neighbour”, are just a few. 

One piece of wisdom worth reflecting on is the closing comments of the Sermon on the Mount. Having sat on the mount where the sermon was delivered and gazed across Lake Galilee, I realise that many a person has made that sermon a rule for their lives and often without any reflection on the man who delivered it. This piece of wisdom spoke of two builder, two foundations, and two outcomes. 

The builders are unnamed as the preacher is really forcing the listener to reflect on which builder he/she might be. 

One built on sand: the kind of stuff that slips so easily through the hands and offers no resistance to storms or floods. It’s great for building castles that are as temporary as the next high tide and only as lasting as a memory. The other built on rock: the kind that reveal a storms ineffectiveness and its power to divert the course of the greatest floods. It neither slips through the fingers nor offers only memory but it offer stability and shelter to reality.

The preacher interestingly makes no comment about any differences in the buildings except the ground on which they established their foundations. For all we know the houses could have been identical. Both it seems built diligently, both applied their expertise and both had plans for grandeur. In the lead up to the storm and flood my guess is that no one could see the difference. In fact you often can’t tell the difference between builders until what they have built has been tested by storms. 

When I read the sermon I kind of thought the preacher had me in his sights. It is not the first time that has happened and I expect not the last. This piece of wisdom niggles at me. What’s the foundation for a life in a world of storms? What foundation am I building on when the ageing process has me like a sandcastle waiting for the next tide to wash away a little more of all that I am and have achieved. I have seen the tidal effects on others and watched the sand beneath them displaced. They live like they will never leave but they will. They live like their achievement will last forever but they won’t. This world, I am discovering more every day, is a sandy foundation for anything lasting.  Surely the wise builder considers the future, the reality of storms and floods and looks for something of a more stable foundation to build upon, such that he/she is not washed away. 

My imagination runs to the lesson taught by the child building a sandcastle. Max Lucado writes, “Go ahead and build but build with a child’s heart. When the sun sets and the tides take – applaud. Salute the process of life, take your father’s hand, and go home.”   

That’s the wisdom I think Jesus sought to teach us in the Sermon on the Mount. Our days are numbered, the storms will take their toll while God remains the sure foundation for life and we can salute like children the process of life, take our Heavenly Father’s hand and go home.