I am sure each of you has heard of Builder Bob, the cartoon figure for the little kids. I admit I don’t know much about him or his character, never watched the show but I have seen his toy merchandise in the stores. A little round guy with a hard hat on, Bob goes around building stuff I suppose and entertains your children. There is probably a little Builder Bob in each of us. We all are building something, maybe a home, a family, a career, relationships. We all build daily in some area.
I have done a little renovation in my time. Some of the jobs were small projects with little or no effect on the structure of the house. They were primarily cosmetic or replacing something that had worn out or broken. Then there were bigger building jobs. We did a very large renovation on our house a few years ago. Although there were professional contractors involved, some projects my wife and I decided to take on by ourselves. We built and modified upon the very structure of our home. The foundation that was laid some 60 years ago, we built upon it, making changes that altered it permanently. Yes, I have done some building, construction, in my time. I may not be a vocational builder but I do build daily. We all do. We all build on something everyday.
1stCORINTHIANS 3:10-13 “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building on it. Each builder must choose with care how to build on it. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw– the work of each builder will become visible, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done.” NRSV
When Paul was writing this letter to the church he had planted in Corinth, his intent was to help correct some factions within the church. Specifically the verses quoted above were to help the church there to see that they added or built very carefully upon the foundation Paul laid for them, the foundation of Jesus Christ. In their pursuit of following a particular teacher, they must take care not to improperly build upon the true foundation.
When we were building- renovating our home it was imperative to stay within the confines of the foundation already established. We built, but we were careful with what was added upon the existing structure which had been tried and tested. Not only the materials used were important but the manner in which they were attached was just as important. If lesser materials were used or attached improperly to the foundation, the entire structure would be put at risk.
Although Paul was primarily interested in doctrinal, teaching matters of division within the church of Corinth with his writing, it occurred to me that this same advice had merit in other situations. In his instruction to be careful how we build on the foundation of Christ, that would be true in all areas of building. As I said earlier, we all build. We all are building something daily. It may not be our job to build doctrine or give instruction to the church, but we do build upon a foundation that was built in Jesus Christ. Jesus through his life and teaching laid foundations for how we as His disciples should live our lives. The Word of God, which Christ embodied, is the very foundation for the life we live.
In our daily activities and interactions we add upon or build onto that foundation laid in Christ with every thought, action, and behavior. As Christians our actions and interactions with others represent what we are building upon the foundation of Christ. At times we will use fine materials, golden in nature to build upon a relationship with another. Many times we will use only the wood or straw in our building. We usually pick out the materials we choose to use in a given circumstance or action. I would venture to say that I am well aware that the material I have chosen may not fit the foundation already laid within me in Christ with some of my behavior or interactions with others. Some of my attitudes or words are ill constructed and to not add to the strength of the relationship.
Yes we all build daily. We interact with others. Our actions build what they may see as Christ-like behavior or not. Our words and deeds can build up another or lay the groundwork for hurt. Even if we are building homes, careers, or our education, the manner in which we build is visible to others. The testing will reveal if our additions are true, worthy, and Christ-like, or just hay to be burned and discarded. How we build on the true foundation of Christ does matter, to us as individuals and to others who see our work. Paul did not say when or if you build, he knew we all build daily. What he wished to convey is be careful what you choose to build.
You don’t have to wear a hard hat and have a tool belt to be a builder. If Christ has laid the foundation in your heart as one of His own, then believe Paul and me, you are building, something. Carefully choose your materials when adding to Christ’s foundation. The straw, wood, and the hay all get burned up under fire of testing. Your envy, quarreling, and behavior toward another to suit your own selfish motives present a woeful addition to Christ’s foundation. Go out and be the Bob the Builder you were intended to be in Jesus, build carefully and use the good stuff. It will last.