Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. (Psalm 127:1, NIV)
In two days, our nation will celebrate the 242nd anniversary of its existence, the anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776, representatives of each of the 13 colonies voted unanimously to adopt the resolution that declared our independence from the rule of Great Britain. And, on that day, the 13 colonies became the 13 states of the United States of America. One of the signers of the Declaration, representing the colony of Pennsylvania, was Benjamin Franklin.
In 1787, after the war for our independence had been fought and our nation was putting together the Constitution of the United States of America, Franklin, understanding the futility of doing such a work without the help of God, delivered a speech to the Constitutional Convention. In that speech, he appealed to President George Washington and the other members of the Convention to recognize the need for prayer, for seeking the help of God in such an important undertaking.
Franklin reminded those assembled of the fact that throughout the war against Great Britain, the Congress, aware of the dangers that we faced, made it a daily practice to seek Divine Protection. He pointed out that not only did God hear those prayers, but also that He graciously answered them. Franklin noted that it was to the providence of God that they owed the opportunity to engage in developing a constitution that would establish the laws of our country. Franklin then asked, “And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance?”
Franklin understood the truth of God’s Word found in Psalm 127:1, which says that building a house (or a country) without God is useless; it is an exercise in futility. Franklin went on to say, “I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that ‘except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.'”
Franklin believed this and demonstrated his belief that moving ahead without God’s help would be detrimental to the future of the United States of America, saying, “We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.”
Just as Benjamin Franklin knew that we needed God to build a nation, we need to understand that we need God to build our lives. We need to seek His help in all that we do. Our lives must be built upon the rock, that is, listening to and following the words of Jesus Christ. If we don’t seek God’s help, if we don’t build our lives on the rock, then we are like the man who builds his house on sand. When the storms of life come, the house built on sand will be destroyed. But when we build our lives on the rock, when we hear and follow the words of Jesus, allowing Him to build our lives, then we can withstand the storms of life (Matthew 7:24-27). And, with God as the builder, guiding our lives each step of the way, we can be sure that our house is not being built in vain.
Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™