We are all building a life. As we move to 1 Corinthians 3, we will see what it means to be a wise builder. Maybe you are building a career, reputation, marriage, or a home. At Liberty, we are building a church. Building takes teamwork. We are partners and co-laborers with God. That is what it means when Paul says, “God’s fellow workers” (v. 9). To be a wise builder, we must examine three aspects of building:
A building is only as strong as the foundation it is built on. Paul says that because of God’s grace, he is a wise master builder who has laid the foundation, which is Jesus Christ (v. 10-11). The church is built on Jesus. We can do nothing apart from the grace of God. Paul says he’s laid the foundation, and we should “take heed” how we build on it (v. 10). We must take heed to our attitude, what we value as important, how we spend our time, what we read, what we watch and put in our mind, the friends we hang out with, and the words we speak. To build a church or a life on anything other than Christ is to build a sandcastle. Jesus talked about this in Matthew 7:24-27. The house built on a rock withstood the storm, but the house built on the sand fell, “and great was its fall.” In an ancient building, the cornerstone was the main foundation stone, the big stone where all the walls met. The cornerstone held it all together. Jesus is the cornerstone. Jesus holds it all together.
In verse 12 Paul lists some materials that we can build with – “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw….” Gold, silver and precious stones are lasting, beautiful, and valuable. You have to dig to find them. Hard work is involved! Wood, hay, and straware temporary, ordinary, cheap, and easy to find. When building your life, build with things that will last, that have eternal value. More buildings are destroyed by termites than tornados! It is usually not the big things but the little things that tear us down. In verse 6, Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” In verse 8 he says that each will receive his own reward. We don’t all do the same job or have the same gifts, but each is just as important. God wants to use you! Paul and Apollos are humans. God uses human instruments to be His hands and His feet. Jesus used ordinary men and women, and God wants to use you!
Anyone who has built knows what a home inspection is. It’s what it sounds, right? All the work is examined by an inspector. People have a strange view of judgement. They picture a long line in eternity and a set of scales. All your good works on one side and all your bad deeds on the other. If the good outweighs the bad, you go to heaven. If the bad outweighs the good, you are sent to hell. That is not what the Bible teaches. There are two great judgements – the Great White Throne Judgement for unbelievers (Rev. 20:11) and the Judgement Seat of Christ for believers (Rom. 14:10, 2 Cor. 5:10). For believers, the purpose of judgement is not to determine whether or not you go to heaven. Your eternal destiny is determined before you leave this earth. The purpose is to give an account for our lives.The things done for Christ will last. The things not done for Christ will burn up (1 Cor. 3:13-15). Nothing is hidden from God. Every secret will be brought to light and disclosed. Apologizing for sin does not do away with accountability. Confession restores fellowship, but we will still have to answer for how we treated others, used our gifts, abilities, and talents, for every word spoken, how we used our money, time, and how we ran our race. When we build our lives, we must remember inspection is coming!
Satan is the Accuser of the Brethren, bringing up our sins. Praise God at the Judgment Seat of Christ every shameful thing we have ever done will be burned up never to be brought up again. Jesus paid the punishment we deserve. He will wipe the tears from our eyes and we will be like Him. He will have finished what He started. He will present us blameless before the Father. Hallelujah!
Some believers, those who invested in eternity, will have a lasting inheritance. Some will not have treasure in heaven because they wasted their lives. Paul urged us to take heed. What are you building? Are you building wisely?