Be Careful How You Build
When building something new, I always read the instructions.
It wasn’t always that way. God has given me the ability to see how things go together, so I am usually able to assemble most anything without the directions. Over the course of many years, I discovered that I would often end up with “spare” pieces or would have to take apart portions of the project and rebuild because I missed something. I learned it’s just easier and more efficient to make sure I understand the instructions before I begin.
Paul offers a similar instruction in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15. We’re told that a foundation already exists. We have the responsibility and blessing of working with God to build in His kingdom. Jointly, we work together to build up this church. In our families, we all have a role to play in growing to be ever more God-glorifying. Perhaps most importantly, we have the individual responsibility of building our own lives into an acceptable dwelling for God. One of Paul’s most important admonitions in this passage is to be careful how you build.
In each of these areas - church, family, our lives - the world offers many options for deciding how to live. Spending just a moment in thought should make clear that the world proposes as many options as there are tastes. If that is the truth of the matter, how confusing a world we live in! Thankfully, further consideration should reveal that this spectrum of possibilities isn’t from God, but from the enemy.
We have much latitude in how we might use our individual abilities and talents in the church. Paul talks about the church being a body composed of many parts because there are many jobs to perform. There are, however, certain guidelines God expects us to follow, boundaries to remain within. In the Old Testament, God prescribed sacrifices and the various options for honoring him in sacrifice. In the same way, God has defined certain practices we must engage in to be pleasing to Him. It is absolutely imperative that we understand both the what/how and why we do the things we do. It is important because God expects us to worship Him in spirit and truth (with our hearts and minds involved).
Our families are really no different than the church, because God has spelled out His plan for the family, too. Certainly, there are exceptions due to difficulties and poor choices that some make, but God prescribed how things should be. For the effective functioning of a family, God describes the roles of father, mother, and children and how they are to operate together to glorify Him. We do well to evaluate our family’s operation in light of God’s word, not what the neighbors or other peers are doing.
We each must devote ourselves to fully embracing our relationship with God and looking to every opportunity He provides to serve Him. Looking to Jesus’ summation of judgement in Matthew 25 and the Good Samaritan provide some very important perspective. In both of those passages, Jesus explains that even seemingly small acts of service are not just beneficial to us, but expected by Him. And the sacrificial service provided by the Samaritan was the standard that Jesus used to describe our aim in showing His love to others. These as well as others show the type of attitude God expects of those who would work with Him.
Paul warns that our work will be tested. We will be measured and need to fit the qualifications God prescribes. In this evaluation, we do not want to find ourselves coming up short. Rephrasing Paul’s plea - work diligently and carefully, and follow the directions. Your life of service for and work with God will not be smooth sailing, but it is so much easier to do it the right way the first time instead of having to tear things apart and start again. Don’t forget to read the instructions!