The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose. . . . We work together as partners who belong to God. You are God’s field, God’s building—not ours. Because of God’s special favor to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. - 1 Corinthians 3:8-10
Three men working on a building site were doing the same kind of work. One day,they were asked to describe their work. One said, “I shovel dirt into a wheelbarrow, push it across the site, and empty it.” The second said, “I come to work to make a living, to put food on the table and a roof over my kids’ heads. Then I go home.” The third said, “I’m privileged to be building a cathedral.” The first saw work as drudgery; the second as a means to an end. The third, however, had a sense of grandeur and purpose in what he was doing.
When Paul talked about his work and that of his fellow workers, he said, “[We] work as a team with the same purpose.” That purpose was to build “God’s building” (1 Cor. 3:8-9). He could have described his work as getting on a ship, sailing to a new city, preaching, getting beaten up and thrown in jail, and then moving on. But he saw the grand picture—he was building “God’s building”—the church.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to recognize and revere the church. He told them, “Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” (3:16).
But he and his fellow apostles were not in this work alone. He claimed, “I have laid the foundation. . . . Now others are building on it” (3:10). And he had stern words for those who were involved in continuing the work of building “the temple of God.” They “must be very careful.” Great care had to be exercised to ensure that they built on the proper foundation, the only legitimate foundation for the church—”Jesus Christ” (3:11). Obviously, any building erected without an adequate foundation cannot stand. In the same way, any church that gets away from loving, worshiping, and serving the Lord Jesus cannot claim to be a genuine church.
Paul was well aware of the dangers of apostasy. But he also worried about the way churches would go about being the church and the kind of church work they would do! He said some work is like “gold, silver, [or] jewels.” When tested in fire, it survives. Other work resembles “wood, hay, or straw” (3:10). It cannot survive a blazing inferno. Paul’s point? “Everyone’s work will be put through the fire to see whether or not it keeps its value” (3:13).
Church life is neither mundane nor routine—it is God’s work. We’re building God’s building, and he expects quality workmanship.
For Further Study: 1 Corinthians 3:5-17
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
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