GSFA Devotional: Bread for Our Journey
17 May 2023
THE WISE BUILDER
1 Corinthians 3:10 – 15
Before responding to the Corinthians' request for advice, Paul begins by reminding them of the infinite grace God has shown them in saving them. Having a new 'identity', they are now children of God, with new resources for living their lives, the Holy Spirit making them responsive to God's will. Also in 1 Corinthians 2, Paul reminds them that God has a different wisdom and that their way of living or being shows that they are following the wisdom of men. He wants to motivate the Corinthians to stop conforming to this kind of wisdom.
Co-workers by Grace
Paul now turns to the question of the order and organisation of the house of God, the building of which has been entrusted to our responsibility, only by the grace of God.
Of course Paul knew that his status as a worker in God’s field, or on God’s building, was based on God’s undeserved favor, not on his own deserving or merit. It is an exalted thing to be a fellow worker with God. But God doesn’t choose exalted people to do His work. It isn’t anything in them that makes them worthy to be His worker, it is according to the grace of God.
When Paul founded the church in Corinth (Acts 18), he set the only foundation that can be laid, the person and work of Jesus Christ. Yet he knew that others would come after him and build on the foundation he set. There is only one foundation for the church. If it isn’t founded on Jesus Christ, it isn’t a church at all. So one can’t build on any other foundation, except on Jesus Christ. Indeed, we have a responsibility for how we work in this building, and especially those to whom God has entrusted a special function in this work. There is only one foundation; it is Christ. Paul had laid it as a wise architect; but then God calls his true workers to continue the building of his house on that foundation.
Co-workers with wisdom
Thus there are two types of workers:
The good workers build on the foundation using gold, silver, precious stones. This reflects as many doctrines brought to the edification of the members of the Church, but, at the same time, as many people trained by these doctrines and added by the ministry of the Lord's workers.
However, others use other materials, wood, hay, thatch. It is a pity that all can be destroyed by fire, some a little more, some a little less quickly, but in the end everything falls prey to the fire. That is to say, when a servant of God, instead of bringing souls into relationship with God, enslaves them to his authority, or places them under the yoke of the cultural demands of the age, when he subjects biblical truths to human wisdom, that is as much wood, hay, and stubble, which he adds to the building. The souls brought into the house of God by these falsified doctrines do not have even a spark of divine life! On the day when judgment falls on this house, everything precious will stand the fire, and everything else will be consumed without a single thing remaining.
It means that there are good workmen here who do good work; but there are also true workmen, who are found everywhere, and many who do bad work, thinking that they can achieve good results with bad materials. But as soon as their house burns down, they will be saved as through fire.
We must always be aware that God has chosen us by grace, and only by grace, and not because of our degree of theological knowledge.
All of us who are called to work for the Lord, let us beware of bringing into the house of God anything other than souls, established on divine principles, not on the principles of men.
We thus have a responsibility to make true disciples of Christ by shaping them with teachings according to the Scriptures, given with pure motives or good works that God approves.
Let us avoid the 'chameleon' game of trying to adapt to the colour of the environment and trying to mix gold and stubble to build on the same foundation.
Let us be careful how we build and let us be wise, spiritual and responsible architects working for the solidity and quality of the building works that the Lord has asked us to build on the foundation that is Christ.
Our joy is to be used by the Great Architect and to see the building grow to the glory of God. In view of all this, all internal rivalry is mere futility, vanity and pride. "Let him who would have pride put his pride in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 1:31).
Let us remember that many people who believe they are serving God, but are doing it in an unworthy manner or with unworthy “materials” will come to find in eternity that they have, in reality, done nothing for the Lord. Some will be saved, but with a life that was wasted, and receive no crown to give to Jesus, for His glory.
Let us be wise builders working for the glory of God.
The Most Revd Titre Ande
Primate of the Province of the Anglican Church in Congo