Jesus sat on a hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee. All afternoon He had talked to the people who sat around Him on the grass. He was teaching them the way to live to please God.
He told them to be kind, to trust in God, and to love everyone — even their enemies.
Now the lesson was finished. Jesus looked out across the hills and saw some workmen digging in the dirt. They were digging out a foundation for a house. It was very hard work and would take a long time, because they were digging clear down to the bedrock.
Not far away, a pretty house stood on a nice, sandy beach beside the lake. It had been easy to build this house. The builders did not dig all the way to the rock. The house had been built quickly, and people were already living in it.
Jesus thought about the people around Him. They were like the houses. He began to tell them a story about how people were like houses.
“Everyone who hears My sayings and does them is like a wise man who built a house. He dug deep and laid the foundation on a rock. The rain fell, the floods came; the winds blew and beat on that house. But it did not fall, because it was built on the rock.
“Everyone who hears these saying of Mine and does not do them, is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the floods came; the winds blew and beat on that house, and it fell. And the house was destroyed.”
The people turned and looked at the two houses, one on the sand, and the other just being built on the rock. They knew what Jesus meant. The pretty house by the lake was near a stream which came down between the hills. There was only a trickle of water in the stream now, but when the heavy rains of winter came. It would become a great roaring river. It might rush over its banks and wash away the sand from under the house. Then the house would cave in.
But the flood could never wash away the foundation of the house being built on a rock. It was much harder to build, and the family who wanted to live in it would have to wait patiently until it was done, but it was a safe home.
As the people looked at the two houses, they understood the meaning of the story. They knew Jesus was not really talking about building houses. Instead, He was talking about how each person needed to build his or her character on a strong foundation.
We are like the people who listened to Jesus by the sea of Galilee. We must choose which way we will build, for we are building our characters every day. We are building to become the kind of men and women we will be when we are grown. Just like the people building houses, we need a rock to build upon.
The Bible tells us our Rock is Jesus. If we let Him come into our hearts, He will be the strong foundation for our characters. He will help us to follow His words. He will teach us to be like Him. He will help us to love as he loves.
“Love your enemies. Do good to them and do not even think about being paid back; God will reward you. You will be His children, because you are acting like Him. He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” says Jesus.
“Do not worry about food and clothes. Trust God. Just look at the lilies of the field. They do not work and worry, but even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed so well. If God takes such care of the flowers, how much more will He take care of you.”
Each day Jesus will help us to do the things He wants, and each day we will grow more like Him. Then, when the storms of trouble, the winds of ugly thoughts, and the rains of wanting to do wrong come, we can stand true and faithful like the strong house built on a rock.
In building our characters, the first stones are laid in childhood. Read Ephesians 6:1 and Exodus 20:12. Second Timothy 2:15 and Ecclesiastes 12:13 tell about other stones used in character building.
Let us all be like the builder in our Treasure Chest Verse for today:
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24