Just as a man might build a house in which he and his family can live, so too, each one of us is building a life. In fact, the Bible uses the analogy of a house in order to help each one of us better understand how we might build a life that we can be proud of, and one which will weather storms of trial and even the eternal judgment.
Jesus famously used the analogy in His parable of the wise and foolish builders. The foolish individual listened to the words of Jesus and then promptly ignored them. He is likened to a man who built his house on a foundation of sand. The wise individual listened to the words of Jesus and put them into practice. He is likened to a man who built his house on a foundation of rock.
When building a life, like when building a house, it is important to have a good foundation. A house built on a shaky foundation might stand for a while, but given time, it collapses. A house with a solid foundation will endure a good, long while. So too, a life built on vain philosophies, empty goals, and harmful practices might seem good for a while; but eventually time catches up and things collapse in that life. Meanwhile, Jesus is teaching, a life built on faithful obedience to His precepts will endure through every storm, coming out on the other side still standing. (cf. Matthew)
Elsewhere, the Scriptures point out that what is true of an individual life, is also true when building a strong church. The apostle Paul wrote, “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:10-11; NKJV) A church built on the firm foundation of Christ has an eternal foundation. All others will prove faulty.
What is true of the foundation, is also, the Bible says, true of the rest of the manner in which we build our lives. As he was saying his goodbyes to some dear friends, the apostle Paul is recorded as having told them, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.” (Acts 20:32; NKJV)
We understand in building structures, there are often building codes which must be followed. These codes, devised by men, are intended to make houses safer and more secure. In the same way, one might say that God has given us certain building codes for life. These plans, devised by the wisdom of God, are intended to make our lives better, and more secure. An individual who builds his life according to his own whims is very likely going to find, so to speak, the plumbing leaks, the wiring is faulty, and the whole mess is going to end up burning to the ground. The individual who, having selected a good foundation, goes on to build according to God’s plan, is going to find all things work together as they should, and the soundness of what has been built has not just a lifetime guarantee, but an eternal guarantee.
Jesus makes one other point about life, using the analogy of a house. He likened the condition of some people to a man who, having gotten rid of an unwanted guest, an evil spirit, cleans out his house, but never fills it up with good things. Eventually the evil spirit returns and brings his brothers, and fills up the house for the man. (cf. Matthew 12:43-45) When building a house, it is good to purposefully furnish it with good things, and good company. Likewise, with life. You need to actively fill your life with good habits, good ideas, and worthwhile companions. If you do not, you will find that others fill your life for you. You will wake up one day to discover you have nothing but bad habits, unhappy thoughts and friends you don’t really want. All of which make your life a lot more unpleasant to actually live in.
Unlike houses, wherein if the one you are residing in proves unsatisfactory, you can always move and find another one, with your life, you only get the one chance to build it right. Fortunately,
God makes it possible, when we mess up, to tear parts out (so to speak) and build them right. He offers us not only the right blueprints for life, and a catalog of blessings and practices with which to furnish our lives; He also offers us forgiveness and patience when we put our work into His hands.
With God’s help, we can build a life that is eternally good. If such a prospect interests you, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.