Once upon a time, as the story goes, there were three little pigs. When they were grown, their mother sent them off to make their own living and advised them to build their homes with bricks and mortar. The first pig, however, was so interested in his own pursuits, that he quickly built a straw house. The second pig remembered his motherâ€™s advice but, unable to give up other enjoyments completely, he compromised and built his house of sticks. The third pig heeded his motherâ€™s advice and carefully built a brick house with mortar. A big bad wolf came and toppled the straw house with one blow and devoured the first pig. After a few blows from different directions, the second house and its owner met their demise, too. But the last house, carefully constructed of bricks and mortar, stood firmly in its place, and the third pig was saved.
Jesus also told a story about wise and foolish builders. After delivering His sermon on the Mount of Olives (Mt 5:3-7:23), the Lord told the crowds that â€œwhoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does themâ€ will be like a wise man who built his house on a rock, but whoever hears and does not do them â€œwill be like a foolish man who built his house on the sandâ€ (Mt 7:24-27). He wanted us to compare building our faith to building a house. We know the purpose of a house is to protect its inhabitants from wind, rain, and other elements. One built on rock will have a stable foundation, but the one built on sand will fall in the face of the storm. Likewise, in our faith we will encounter troubles and challenges. How we have built our faith will determine whether or not we can remain standing after all.
From both stories, we see that there are several possible approaches to building. There are some who hear the teachings in church and believe they are good. Yet they pay little attention to practicing what they have heard. There are things of greater interest to them, and they have little time to spare. They walk away with no intention of changing their lives. After a day or two, they have forgotten the sermon altogether. When someone gossips or is inconsiderate, they are offended and, forgetting the Bibleâ€™s teaching about forgiveness, leave the church.
The second kind of believer hears the message and knows the importance of faith. Though they attempt to apply the teachings to their life, they still love the world. When someone offends them, they know the need to forgive, but still hold small grudges. They lack the time to cultivate themselves spiritually. Eventually, in the face of temptation, they cannot bear it and give up their faith.
We must build our homes on the rock by not only hearing, but also practicing the teachings we have heard. To do so requires constant meditation upon them, aided by taking notes during sermons, or listening to sermon tapes. As we absorb the teachings, we will learn to apply them in every aspect of our lives. And once we practice them often, they will become like a reflex. When troubles come, we are able to deal with them correctly and naturally. For every problem, we have a biblical solution. With this firm foundation, we can enter safely into the heavenly kingdom.