1 Corinthians 3:10-15
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
When I first read this, I thought “I’m not sure my contribution to building the church is particularly valuable. I’m sure that what others do is worth much more.” But Paul doesn’t say that what is built is judged by its value, but by whether it survives (literally “remains”). So, what things will remain?
I looked at what the New Testament says will “endure” or “remain”. It talks most commonly about God’s people “enduring”. I think it’s important that I invest all of myself in bringing and building people up into God’s family.
Righteousness endures (2 Corinthians 9:9), and so does faith, hope and love, but love is the greatest (1 Corinthians 13:13). Jesus tells the church at Ephesus “I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. … But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first!” (Revelation 2:2,4). However, he commends the church at Thyatira “I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance” (Revelation2:19). I should build with love for both Jesus and his people (not in the hope of a reward).
God is the one steadily building endurance in each of us (Romans 15:5-6, James 1:2-4). Jesus tells us that we will be fruitful as we remain in him, like branches on a grapevine (John15:1-10). It’s so important that whatever I do, I do it in partnership with Jesus, working with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, you’re the foundation. Thanks for all the different parts you give us in what you’re doing to build your church. Help us to build with you, with faith and hope and above all, love, just like you.
Written by David Cornell