I want to ask one final question — if it’s so obvious that Christians ought to build with imperishable materials — God and people — then why does it seem that so few build their lives in this way?
The key is what I mentioned earlier — surrender. It is highly unlikely that you will build your life using imperishable materials unless you are daily surrendering your life to Jesus. It is inevitable that the Christian who is not daily surrendering his life will revert back to building his life with perishable materials. To live for stuff, it’s inevitable. In contrast, a Christian who is daily denying himself, daily taking up his cross, daily surrendering himself is much more likely to build his life with imperishable materials.
One distinction between gold, silver, precious stones and wood, hay, straw is the costliness of the first group of materials compared with the second grouping. Likewise, daily surrender is costly. Surrender costs everything. But we do this with joy because Jesus is worth more than anything else in this world.
When is the last time your surrendered you life to Jesus? Commit to daily surrender. Count the cost and give your life fully to the Lord each and every day. Begin each morning asking God, what would you have me do for you today? Ask him. If you do this and you surrender each day to God, chances are, you will be building with imperishable materials.
Paul issues his final warning to the leaders of this church. v16 — 16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?
The “you” used here is you plural. Or you all. You all, we are the temple of God and God’s Spirit lives in us. This is talking about the church.
Then v17, anyone in leadership needs to take in this verse — 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
To be honest, I am not sure exactly what this verse means. But even so, it sounds scary. Before in v15, we have people whose building is being burned up, yet they are saved by the skin of their teeth because their foundation is Jesus.
v17 seems to raise the stakes. If anyone destroys the temple, God will destroy him. Who is the temple? It’s you and me, it’s the church. Who can destroy a church? Who is destroying the Corinthian church? The blame can be shared, but the bulk of the blame falls on the leaders. The leaders became the focus and the followers were putting their leaders on a pedestal and there were factions and jealousies and quarreling. And the leaders stood there and let it happen. In fact, they encouraged it. Through their teaching, they emphasized personal giftedness and human wisdom and human assessment of talents. Who is the best speaker? Who had the most eloquent sermons? Who possessed the most impressive spiritual gift?
If the church is destroyed, then God is going to hold the leaders responsible. Leadership in the church is not something to be taken lightly, esp. the teaching ministry. I never really paid much attention to theology and sound doctrine because I was more on the devotional/relational side. But over the years, I have come to realize its importance. We may start our church well. We may preach Jesus and him crucified. We may lift up Jesus’ name and say He is our chief shepherd. But if we, esp. the preachers are not careful, we can easily depart from the gospel and gradually move toward some peripheral teaching and a few years or a few decades pass and the church can be destroyed. And if that happens, the leaders will be judged.
To summarize, there are 3 warnings.
1) God shakes up our foundations because he loves us. This is a warning for everyone, believers and non-believers. We need to be willing to start from ground zero and rebuild on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
2) God shakes up our foundations because he not only wants Jesus to be our foundation, but he wants us to build our lives with imperishable materials. This is a warning for Christians. Are you living for God and people? Nothing else lasts.
3) God shakes up our foundations because he wants to ensure that we continue to preach and teach Jesus and him crucified. The gospel. The cross. This is a warning for Christian leaders. Let’s guard our teaching.
How can you and I build our lives upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ? If you have been building with perishable materials, God is gracious. Forget about the past. Tear down your house and rebuild. Start today. It’s never too late to start over from our spiritual ground zero — Jesus Christ. Surrender your life to Jesus daily and invest your life in imperishable things — God and people. Let’s live in a way that you and I won’t be saved by the skin of our teeth but in a way that God will reward each of us when we see him face to face.
I want to close with a couple verses from 2 Tim 4 –
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.