Are You Building on Sand or on Rock?
DO YOU enjoy reading the Bible? Do you even set aside some time to study the Bible regularly with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses? If so, you no doubt feel that the knowledge you have acquired has helped you to understand better why this world is currently engulfed by problems. (Revelation 12:9, 12) In addition, numerous Bible passages have given you comfort during times of distress as well as hope for the future.—Psalm 145:14; 147:3; 2 Peter 3:13.
Acquiring accurate Bible knowledge is a vital step for those desiring to become followers of Christ. But is it the only step? No. To remain a true Christian—especially when one’s faith is tested—a Bible student needs to take another crucial step. What is it? To find the answer, let us briefly consider the Sermon on the Mount, a discourse delivered by Jesus on a mountain in Galilee.—Matthew 5:1, 2.
Two Houses Tested
Are you familiar with the contents of the Sermon on the Mount? You can find this famous discourse in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. (Matthew 5:1–7:29; Luke 6:20-49) It takes just 20 minutes to read the entire sermon. Still, it is packed with more than 20 quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures and more than 50 figures of speech. One figure of speech—involving the building of two houses—stands out because Jesus used it as the conclusion of his discourse. If you understand the significance of that concluding illustration, you will be helped to see how you can continue to stand firm as a follower of Christ no matter what tests of faith you may encounter.
Jesus said: “Everyone that hears these sayings of mine and does them will be likened to a discreet man, who built his house upon the rock-mass. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and lashed against that house, but it did not cave in, for it had been founded upon the rock-mass. Furthermore, everyone hearing these sayings of mine and not doing them will be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand. And the rain poured down and the floods came and the winds blew and struck against that house and it caved in, and its collapse was great.”—Matthew 7:24-27.
A Man “Who Dug and Went Down Deep”
What important truth did Jesus convey to his disciples with this illustration about the two builders? To find out, take a closer look at Jesus’ words. What do you note about the two houses? Both were exposed to the same calamitous events. The houses may have looked similar. They may also have stood in the same general location—even side by side. Still, one was built on sand, the other on rock. How could that be? Because, as noted in the Gospel of Luke, the discreet man “dug and went down deep” in order to reach a layer of rock. (Luke 6:48) As a result, the house of the discreet man stood firm.
What was the point that Jesus wanted to highlight? Jesus told the illustration in order to highlight, not the appearance or the location of the houses nor the power of the elements, but the actions of the builders. One man dug down deep, whereas the other did not. How can you be like the discreet man and dig down deep? Jesus himself summarized the point of the illustration by stating: “Why, then, do you call me ‘Lord! Lord!’ but do not do the things I say? Everyone that comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man . . . who dug and went down deep and laid a foundation upon the rock-mass.”—Luke 6:46-48.
Indeed, merely listening to Bible teachings or reading the Bible at home is like putting a house on top of sand—no digging required. But to do, or apply, Christ’s teachings is challenging. It involves digging down deep to reach solid rock.
Hence, whether you stand firm as a follower of Christ or not depends on whether you apply what you hear or not. When you apply in your daily life what you learn through Bible study, you are like the discreet man who dug down deep. Therefore, each Bible student should pause and ask himself: ‘Am I a hearer, or am I a doer? Do I merely read and study the Bible, or do I follow the Bible’s commands when making decisions?’
The Results of Digging Deep
Consider the experience of José. His parents raised him to respect the Bible’s moral standards, but he never studied God’s Word for himself. “When I moved out of the house,” says José, “I tried to be good, but I surrounded myself with bad associates. I started using drugs, engaged in immoral sex, and constantly fought with others.”
Eventually, José decided to change his lifestyle and took a serious interest in studying the Bible. “One thing that really motivated me to change,” says José, “was reading and understanding Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. But it took time for me to make changes in my personality and lifestyle. At first, I was afraid of what my ‘friends’ would think of me, but I overcame that fear. I stopped lying and using obscene speech and began attending the meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I learned that just as Jesus promised, leading a simple life and applying the Bible’s advice really does bring lasting happiness.”—Matthew 5:3-12.
What will be the results when you dig deep to build on rock—that is, when you diligently apply what you read in God’s Word? Jesus stated: “When a flood arose, the river dashed against that house, but was not strong enough to shake it, because of its being well built.” (Luke 6:48) Certainly, if you build well by applying what you learn, stormlike tests not only will fail to break your house but will not even shake it. What a comforting thought!
The disciple James, a half brother of Jesus, mentions yet another blessing for Bible students who are not just hearers but truly doers of God’s written Word. James wrote: “Become doers of the word, and not hearers only . . . He who peers into the perfect law that belongs to freedom and who persists in it, this man, because he has become, not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, will be happy in his doing it.”—James 1:22-25.
Certainly, those who apply the Bible’s counsel are truly happy. Such happiness, in turn, gives followers of Christ the strength to stand firm against the stormlike trials that test their faith and the genuineness of their devotion to God.
What Will You Do?
When Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount, he emphasized that serving Jehovah God is often a matter of, not this and that, but this or that. For example, Jesus taught that a person has either a simple eye or a wicked one, that he slaves either for God or for riches, that he walks either on the cramped road or on the broad one. (Matthew 6:22-24; 7:13, 14) Then, in his concluding illustration of the two builders, Jesus gave his followers one more choice: Act either as a discreet man or as a foolish one.
If you continue to apply wholeheartedly what you are learning from a study of the Bible, you are acting discreetly. Yes, digging deep to build on rock will lead to blessings for you now and in the future.—Proverbs 10:25.
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Our standing firm depends on applying what we learn