OUR Lord pointed out in Matthew 7:24-27 the contrast between persons building on the sand and on the rock. The same storm came to both because in the world the believer is promised tribulation (John 16:33), but he who heard his Lord’s words and practiced them stood the test.
In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 we have set before us the solemn responsibility of the believer to be careful about his building. Christ is the only sure foundation, for He is the chief cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), the tried stone, the sure foundation (Isa. 28:16). But the building must not only be on the Lord but must be built by Him, for except the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it (Ps. 127:1).
God works, however, through consecrated apprentices, and here Paul tells us that a man may build upon the true foundation with gold, silver and precious stones or with wood, hay or stubble. The fire of judgment will test the life; and, although the believer himself shall be saved, if he has built of wood, hay or stubble his lifework shall be destroyed.
Here, then, is indeed a most serious matter, and surely every Christian should take heed how he builds thereon. Consider in our sermon preparation how many times we preachers fill our discourses with wood, hay and stubble when with more prayer and study we might have built a message of gold! Every sermon ought to be our very best under God’s direction. And how often have you, Sunday school teacher, hurriedly woven in some stubble of your own interpretation, a block of wood where there might have been silver?
In conversation with the ungodly, how often have we talked weather and politics and laughed over trivialities and missed a chance to redeem the time with a word fitly spoken, which is like apples of gold in pictures of silver (Prov. 25:11). One day judgment-fire will burn through our conversations, and so much will go up in smoke!
Think of how we waste spare time, filling it with unenduring materials when we could make it a permanent blessing. We build unworthily, cheaply, because we will not pay the price for the best materials. God offers us gold already tried in fire (Rev. 3:18), but there are no bargain rates and reduced prices. It takes hours of prayer and Bible study and obedience and self-denial. If our lifework is to be fireproof, it will not be so built by sentence prayers and one-minute Bible readings before breakfast. But it costs, so we slip in a block of wood here and fill in with hay there and get by with stubble yonder.
One day we shall thank God we built with enduring material. That time you waited in intercessory prayer when the devil said, “Go to bed”; that time you called on a certain person to lead him to Christ though you were ever so nervous; that time you were reconciled to an offended brother; that time you gave ten dollars when Satan suggested fifty cents; that time you gave up that job because it was doubtful in a spiritual way—at such times we build for eternity and the day shall declare it. It is so easy to let up here and there and work in a little wood or stubble, but blessed is the man who will not substitute even the good for the best.
How are you building? With gold, silver and precious stones or with wood, hay and stubble?