For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is (1 Cor. 3:11-13).
Throughout history, ancient builders knew that they needed foundations in place to construct their grand buildings, before adorning them with costly marble and precious stones. As Christians, we know that our lives are to be built on the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a solid foundation but what comes next? How do we go on with Jesus Christ in this world? We must think about who we are living for and how Christ wants us to live.
Building on a sure foundation
You will have heard of the parable of the wise and foolish builders. We know that if we build our lives on anything else other than Christ we are on shaky ground or, as one hymn says, on ‘sinking sand’. Without Christ we will be forever lost in eternity for every other kingdom will be removed and dealt with eternally. In Christ, we will find that our foundation will last even in the storms of life in this world and we will be forever with the Lord.
In 1 Corinthians 3 verses 11-13, Paul reminds us that our foundation is in Christ and tells us to take care that we don’t build on this foundation with things that are temporary or with things that bring no eternal worth for, at the end of the day, everything will be made clear and we will see if we have built for eternity or not.
Building with eternity in mind
Paul reminds believers that on the day of reckoning, the day of Christ, how we have lived and what we have done will be tested through fire. In these verses, Paul paints a great picture for us. Picture a town where people have built their houses with straw, hay and wood. A fire breaks out and rips through that part of town. Everything burns up and the owners of each building come looking for what they had built over the years, but it is all gone. In a moment everything they held dear is gone. Yet, in this town there are places that haven’t been burned down because they are made from materials that last. These places have stood the test of fire and are untouched by it.
We too must build our lives on eternal realities, the things that will last. This means spiritually learning, leaning on and living for Christ. It means living in light of God’s kingdom. Christians are to think carefully, walk humbly and rightly before the Lord, knowing that God knows our actions, our attitudes and the quality of our heart service. We must think about our lives now but also about the future. We are to build on the foundation of Christ knowing that God wants truth in the inner parts and that Christ wants us to be holy as he is holy, remembering that when we do sin we have one who is faithful and just and who can and will forgive us.
We can hide God’s Word in our hearts and daily remind ourselves of the truths contained in it. We can pray to the Lord daily and offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God, serving him and his people.
The believer in Jesus Christ will have a glorious future and be forever with his Lord and Saviour, yet our goal is to be presented before God as those who are fully mature in Christ. Therefore, we want to make every effort to build with eternity in mind. Anything temporary of this world will be removed and only those things that are eternal and help us towards a true Christian character will last. We don’t want to build up on a foundation of Christ with things that are suspect, nor do we want to find that we have wasted our time and energy on things that don’t help us to live close to Jesus and know him which is to know life eternal. That which we build into our life now will not be wasted. It should be our pleasure to build permanent structures into our hearts and minds that help us to be more Christ-like.
We should ask ourselves, ‘Will what I build today last for eternity? Will it withstand the testing of fire that Paul talks about in these verses? Do I need to change how I live in this world so that I develop as a believer and become more Christ-like, but also help others to know Christ too?’
Our permanent home
As strangers and pilgrims in this world we must think about what our permanent home in a new heaven and earth will look like. What will be there for us after the testing with fire?
The author C. S. Lewis talks about us being like children in the back garden playing in the mud. We think we are achieving greatness making mud castles and thinking it is great. Yet we don’t see what is on offer, that not so far away there is a holiday to the sea side and they can make real sand castles in the sun.
I’m sure that as believers we look forward to the day when we will be forever with the Lord, when we will be in a place where there is no longer the presence of sin and the curse. At the same time we need to remind ourselves that nothing unholy will be in Heaven. This should make us think carefully about how we build our lives and whether we are striving to be more like our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
What can we do today that will stand God’s testing of our works? What can we strive for that will go on into God’s kingdom in the future?
C. T. Studd writes:
Two little lines I heard one day,
Travelling along life’s busy way;
Bringing conviction to my heart,
And from my mind would not depart;
‘Only One Life, ‘Twill soon be past,
Only what’s done for Christ will last.’
How will we, as Christians, live our lives in light of 1 Corinthians 3:12?
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