Last week, I spent some time at the beach and observed a man daily bringing a cart full of sand working tools to the beach. Each day he would haul 5-gallon buckets of water to a selected spot where he had left the tools which he used to build sandcastles, mazes, and other sand creations. As I watched, I was reminded of an older post Castles in the Sand where I commented on how building castles in the sand take a lot of time and effort only to ultimately be washed away by the tide. There we considered the analogy of building castles in the sand to attempts at earning one’s salvation. As I reconsidered this, I thought in terms of what we build with our physical (or mental) efforts all of which again point to a spiritual application as well.
As I’ve been living on a farm now for 3 1/2 years, building things that last matters. Consider how often you have driven a countryside and have seen a barn still standing after 100 years. The builder of that barn wasn’t content to waste time, money, and effort on something that would fall apart in a year or two. It was built to last. Consider also houses of by gone years, built more than a century ago that are still standing and structurally sound to this day. Entire towns are made up of these built to last homes, in fact we used to live in a house built in 1912. The same could be said of a number of things built by previous generations that are made to last.
Building castles in the sand is a parable for our day. As it pertains to physical structures, we have sacrificed the quality of built to last for the speed and cheapness of built for now. In effect, we are much more satisfied by seeing a castle built in the sand than considering its stability or durability. Our consumer driven mentality has led us to demand results now, whether that be a meal from a drive thru, a house quickly built, or purchasing with credit. Long expired is the saying ‘good things come to those who wait’, since replaced by ‘low quality goods come to those who want it now’.
Our Lord uses the analogy of castles built in the sand as it relates to those who’s lives are not built on the rock that is Christ alone.
24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”Matthew 7:24-27
It has always been common knowledge that building castles in the sand is an exercise in futility. While they are a display of artistry and can bring temporary satisfaction, they simply will not and indeed cannot last. Therefore, when our Lord makes the analogy of a foundation on sand and a foundation on rock, it is easily understood. Just as with the concept of physical structures built to last, or a foundation on rock as with the passage above, so too is the comparison easily made with our faith. Is it built to last? Is it founded on Christ alone, or is it built on a foundation of sand consisting of morality, religiosity, or other man centered ideas?
In another passage specifically related on building to last, Paul picks up the analogy in 1 Corinthians 3 as it relates again to a foundation on Christ. The warning here is not of the foundation specifically, rather towards that which is built upon the foundation.
10 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. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.1 Corinthians 3:10-15
The lesson here is clear for the Christian. Building upon the foundation of Christ with anything other than the obedience of faith (gold, silver, precious stones) will not last. Rather, that which is done in the flesh (wood, hay, straw) will be burned up, it will not survive the divine test of God. Verse 15 makes it clear that this is not an issue of salvation, because the foundation is Christ, rather it is concerning rewards.
In life, we need to ensure that the things we involve ourselves in our built to last, whether that be family or friendships, houses or barns. This of course provides the perfect analogy to spiritual things, as we have seen from the example that our Lord provides and that also of Paul to the Corinthians. A faith that is built to last is founded upon Christ alone, but the building does not stop here. All that we do in the Christian life must likewise be built to last, that from a love for the Lord and the obedience of faith in all that He has called us to do.
What we build on matters, just as what we build with matters also. May we be exhorted to ensure our lives our built to last.
Soli Deo Gloria