According to the [remarkable] grace of God which was given to me [to prepare me for my task], like a skillful master builder I laid a foundation, and now another is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will be clearly shown [for what it is]; for the day [of judgment] will disclose it, because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality and character and worth of each person’s work. If any person’s work which he has built [on this foundation, that is, any outcome of his effort], remains [and survives this test], he will receive a reward. But if any person’s work is burned up [by the test], he will suffer loss [of his reward]; yet he himself will be saved but only as [one who has barely escaped] through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. The Amplified Bible
Several things come to my mind when I read the words, “foundation” and “building”.
First: The beginning line of a favorite hymn, The Church’s One Foundation. by Samuel Stone. “The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.”
Second: The first house my husband and I had built for us in a new subdivision in Lakewood in 1965. We purchased it before it was built and checked regularly on the progress from foundation to completion. We were able to choose what we wanted from the exterior brick and roofing to the interior colors, style of fireplace, appliances, flooring, etc., but the work was done for us.
Third: The semi-custom house we had built in Evergreen in 1972. The difference with this one is that the major construction on the house was done by the builder, but we “subcontracted” the finishing details back to ourselves – things like door hanging, painting, ceramic tiling, staining and varnishing the custom cabinets, and whatever else we knew or learned how to do. We had much more personal involvement with this house. We were careful to use quality supplies and tools and to seek help and instruction where we needed it.
In light of Paul’s greeting and affirmation of God’s grace given in Jesus Christ to the Corinthian Church and how God had enriched them in every way, it seems to me that several things are needed.
Given the culture that many of the people had grown up under, they needed to unlearn deeply ingrained ways of relating to each other and learn how to appropriate the riches of grace they had been given. Paul’s letter progressively addresses what they need to unlearn and points to what they need to do to live in the grace and enrichment they have been given. And they needed to make the effort to be involved in the process of doing both unlearning and learning.
I deeply appreciate that Paul says that it is the day of judgment in which each person’s work will be tested, so no one has a right to pass judgment on another’s efforts. And I appreciate that Paul says that it is by the grace God gave him that he was prepared for what he was called to do.
I need the reminders and the encouragement Paul gave the Corinthian community to continue to engage in the process of change and growth in building on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
How about you? Each devotional this week has ways to reflect on your life and what, where and how you can get help in continuing to grow in your relationship with Jesus and with each other in community. The Lord bless you as you make the effort.