Paul covers quite a bit in our reading today but our bible experts felt it unnecessary to break it into sections. I will follow their lead and address it all in our time together but for my mind’s sake I want to look at it as a metaphor. I’m seeing blueprints in my mind.
Paul begins by telling his readers that he has been using “milk” and “not solid food” in his teachings of them. So in building terms, we are using 2x4s and screws. These are the basic pieces used in construction. They are versatile and crucial to the structure.
We have to back up a moment in our building process though as Paul leads us. He directs our attention back to our foundation. A sturdy and sound foundation is essential for any building project. Paul’s foundation couldn’t be any stronger; it is Jesus and His redeeming works. Ours will be concrete and rebar.
Our building Project Manager employs many sub-contractors. Some build the frame, some install the plumbing, some work on the wiring, some the insulation and drywall, some will paint, some will lay flooring, some even do trim work. Each job is important and some may do more than one piece but to finish our building it will take several people working together using their unique talents.
This building is VERY important to the Master Builder and He cares about each aspect of it. He carefully chooses His sub-contractors. Even with careful screening and talented builders though there are going to be some parts that don’t come out 100% perfect. These little differences are the “character” of the building. Hopefully their impact is only superficial but that is not always the case.
Paul doesn’t carry us through the stages of our building with exacting detail. Instead he skips ahead and brings us to “final” inspection. The building materials and sub-contractors in Paul’s example cover quite a range. Some materials are more durable than others. “Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, [and] straw” are some of the materials used. The type of inspection Paul describes is extreme! Many of the materials will not survive the intensity of it.
In our building project we can mirror Paul’s design by listing our materials too. Our materials list would also be contingent on our type of building being constructed. A single family dwelling would use vastly different materials than a skyscraper. But for the sake of our example we are going to use the skyscraper
as our model. The materials list would include steel, concrete, rebar, wood, and paper. Our materials will not all survive the “heat” of final inspection Paul proposes either.
I want to take a step away from Paul’s example here. In our building, as I alluded to a moment ago, not everything would survive the flames of a fire. But that doesn’t make the craftsmanship or materials inappropriate to our structure. Our building’s skeleton would likely remain intact after a fire but its usability and beauty would be destroyed. Our building is meant to be used and enjoyed. So we will let our building undergo a detailed inspection instead. In this inspection we will look at the crown molding and the cut in lines of the paint as well as the electrical, plumbing, structural, and safety standards. Our sub-contractors will be “paid” according to their work’s standards. If the job is sloppy or materials chosen poor, our workman will suffer the loss of his pay. He won’t lose his license over it but he will not get paid for his work and most likely not be hired again in the future; at least not by our Project Manager.
In Paul’s example, those whose works don’t make it through the fire don’t lose their lives for it, but they do lose out on the reward for a job well done. The lives that they built upon will be affected by their work. But the saving grace part of that is the Holy Spirit. HE can repair the damage done by faulty workmanship to prevent the collapse of the “temple.” Another’s works in your life don’t render you trash or treasure; only God’s works do. If we let Him build in us then we are a treasure. Some parts might look better after “final inspection” than others but we will NOT be scrapped and sold off for parts when we surrender to Him. That initial “foundation” will ALWAYS survive.
Be watchful what you build with in your life and in the lives of others. It does matter. God sees each detail and rewards us for a job well done.
Father God, what kind of builder have I been? Have I chosen wisely in my building materials? I know there have been times I haven’t. I’m SO grateful that You can repair my mistakes and save the buildings I have been working on from harm. Please help me look into my own “structure” and identify the flaws I have incorporated. Help me be willing to strip back the layers to the point necessary to address the issues identified by You. Then help me rebuild, under Your direction, with care to create something pleasing to You. Help me only use the best materials and follow Your plans when building in the lives of others. Please protect others from my shoddy workmanship, either from laziness or inexperience. I never want to be the cause of another person’s struggle or stumbling. I appreciate the promise of a reward but my first desire is for the safety and care of those I work with. Thank You for the opportunity to be used by You. I pray I make You proud.