Hope for your financial life and beyond

Key Differences in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders

Every builder knows you need a strong foundation to support a house. Well, accept one builder described in the Biblical parable of the wise and foolish builders. He could have made a better choice and taken a Construction 101 class. More about that in a moment.

parable of the wise and foolish buildersWhat makes a solid foundation?  A concrete slab works. So does a poured basement wall or concrete blocks placed on a footer.

On the other hand, building a house that rests on gravel won’t work in the long run. Dirt would be even less sturdy. A house built on sand would have no chance.

No one would ever conceive of building a house on something as unstable and shifty as sand. Without a solid foundation, the ground would buckle under the weight of the house. The slightest storm would wash away the sand and cause the house to crumble.

Ironically, we do this all the time. Not with a real house structure though. We do it with something way more valuable – our lives. We construct a life on all kinds of foundations that have no chance of supporting us in the long run.

Jesus told an epic parable about a wise builder and a foolish builder that highlights this issue. They both built their house differently. And wow…did they ever have different outcomes!

Parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders

Jesus, draws a major contrast in the parable of the wise and foolish builders. He is in the middle of one of his most famous teaching moments, the Sermon on the Mount. Near the end of it, he challenges the people about what they are going to do with the words he has just spoken to them.

The story and his challenge found in Matthew 7:24-27 goes like this:

“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: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 

But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

The Differences in the Builders

Each of these builders had a vision to create something beautiful. They each had an architectural design for how the house would be constructed. And they knew it would be for something helpful – a dwelling that a family could call their own and build memories in.

But there is one key fundamental difference in this parable between the wise and foolish builders that is worth noting. It’s the essence of what Jesus was trying to say. And it overrides in importance all the similarities that these two individuals may have had.

One knew what substance to build on. The other builder did not. 

The wise man who build on the rock focused on more than just the dwelling. He saw the importance of security, stability, and longevity. Furthermore, he didn’t cut corners to save time or money in the present. And he demonstrated compassion and concern for the eventual people who may one day live in this dwelling.

And he knew one more inevitable thing about life – storms are going to come. When those emergencies happen, they can wreck everything a person has worked so hard for if they haven’t planned for them.

Related Content: Emergency Fund Basics: The Step on Which All Other Success Is Built

The foolish builder showed none of these same concerns. For some reason, he didn’t think the foundation mattered. To him, it was all about getting the house up and done as quickly as possible. He had no long-term vision.

But most of all he didn’t foresee the dangers coming his way. In the end, it cost him dearly.

What is This Rock?

Of course, the story is metaphorical. Many of Jesus’ teachings were. And this parable of the wise and foolish builders is no different.

The rock in this passage isn’t really a real rock. It represents truth. And for Jesus, he was THE TRUTH. He put it this way in John 14:6:

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Not only is faith in Jesus the path to God, Jesus is the one who can give us stability and security in this life. When we build our life on his truths, we can withstand the storms of life. We have someone to hold us up when those trials come our way.

The sand, on the other hand, represents error or falsehood. It is buying into a lie. Those who ignore the truth and choose to go down their own path succumb to the storm in the end.

They are washed away…overtaken…ruined.

Jesus is of course pointing out to his listeners the value of following His words. He is the Rock, the Truth on which lives can be built. But I can’t help but think how the rock vs. sand analogy has application to other areas of life outside the spiritual, like with our money.

Build On Rock Solid Truths

When it comes to my finances, I know the basic truth. Winning with money involves three basic principles. If I spend less than I make, stay out of debt and save/invest I’ll have success.  

It’s undeniable and proven. That is THE truth when it comes to success with money. Wise financial builders get that.

Yet the foolish financial builders don’t see that. They’d rather build their fortunes on sand. They practice the opposite behaviors by saving very little, spending all they make and using debt in great quantities to enhance their lifestyle and keep up with those around them.

Related Content: How to Get Out of Debt and Win in Five Simple Steps

The foolish don’t see that those patterns of behavior are a recipe for disaster when the storms come.

Preparation for Emergencies

We all will have financial emergencies at some point. Whether it’s a lay off, sickness, divorce, or death, there will be a time when you’ll need stability with your finances for something. If you’ve built your financial foundation properly, you’ll be able to weather it. If you’ve built your financial world on a hope and prayer, it’s going to be a struggle at the least and impossible to manage at the worst.

The storms of life are coming, whether it’s in the spiritual realm, your financial life, relationships, career or whatever. Entrust your life to what you know is true, not what you think might be true or what others say is true.

And as the parable of the wise and foolish builders teachings us, resting on the truth will help your house stand.

Leave a Comment or Answer a Question Below: What other differences do you see in the parable of the wise and foolish builders? What foolish money beliefs have you followed? How has being financial prepared/aware helped you manage through a tough time of your life?

Photo courtesy of Maksim Orlianskii from Pexels

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  1. I never thought about the future in my life, for I never sought out purpose. Money was spent as it came into my hands because I never thought about next week or tomorrow. When I accepted the purpose God had for me in life, was when I began to build my foundation. That time is the present….now.

  2. Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank says

    I used to save some money for having no reasons at all, I just saved for something. It was really a disaster because it was truly pointless. That’s when I realized that I have to save on purpose, which worked out and let me save much more. Now, I can say I am wiser than ever.

  3. Michael S says

    I enjoyed this article. As a minister, I have preached on this message, but never from a financial angle. It definitely fits!

    I would like to share something the Lord showed me one time with this. When it comes to building on the rock, it isn’t really a rock vs sand. It’s a foundation vs no foundation. Technically, we build a concrete slab, but it’s on sand still(top of the earth). I want to share this story from Luke’s perspective.

    Luk 6:48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.
    Luk 6:49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

    If you noticed he mentioned “Digged deep.” When they built the city of Venice, Italy they took trees, and pounded them into the marsh until it hit bedrock. They did this over and over, using over a million trees. The whole city is built on them. In the same way, to build a foundation on rock means to dig deep, through all the mess, advice, and things offered to find the biblical foundation to base your choices on.

    We must dig down deep to find the truth. You can’t just take someone’s word for it, because you might be building your choices on sand, and YOU’RE responsible for your choices. The advice offered in this blog, I feel, is good solid advice. I may not always agree with every angle, but the basics(foundation) are spot on.

    Read. Learn. Rightly divide the word. Find the truth in scripture, and build on THAT.

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