God’s precious building

1 Corinthians 3.1-23

This note was originally published on Friday 25 October 2013.

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.


Remember the last sandcastle you made at the beach – what happened when the tide came in? What is your faith made of? What is its foundation?


1 Corinthians 3.1-23


Paul doesn’t pull his punches in 1 Corinthians. He calls his readers ‘infants in Christ’ (v 1), immature, dependent, demanding. He needs to go back to basics, because they are acting like jealous children, ‘quarrelling’ (v 3), missing what’s most important.

Paul repeats: God is the one who brings growth, not Paul or Apollos, who are merely servants (vs 5–7). Look again at verse 9: whose service, whose field, whose building? Paul bangs his fist on the parchment: God, God, God! We are God’s temple, with God’s Spirit dwelling among us (vs 16,17).

This is what Paul means by building carefully (v 10) on the foundation of Jesus Christ (v 11): living God’s way (set apart from the world’s way, as we saw in 1.2) and working hard in the power of the Spirit, not simply coasting along and taking forgiveness for granted.

If we build our life of discipleship out of discipline (it is no coincidence those words are so similar), praying and serving, learning contentment rather than always wanting more, caring for others, sharing our faith with others – then when our work is tested with fire, it will survive (v 14). Don’t you think God deserves a temple of precious stone, gold and silver, rather than wood, hay and straw (v 12)?


How firm are your foundations – and how is your building work going?!