1 Corinthians 3:10 “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.”
As Paul built with God, he did not mean to boast when he describes himself as an “expert builder.” After all, he did so only “by the grace of God given to me.” But Paul does provide us with a pattern or example that we can follow.
The key is in that grace of God by which Paul himself built. God’s overwhelming love for Paul, in spite of his murders and persecutions against God’s people, changed the man. Now that same grace, the forgiveness of all his sins, the love of God for him that could not be exhausted became the focus of his life. It moved him to share that gift with others. It bestowed on him the gifts he needed to share that gift with others.
It also gave him the message, the tool by which he would share that gift with others. How does one lead other people to Jesus and attach them to his church? When putting together a structure, there are always shortcuts you can take. At best they weaken the structure. At worst they doom it.
In God’s kingdom, there are many false methods that may appear to gather a large number of people together and build a church. But sometimes the “building” that appears is only an illusion. I have listened to sermons that didn’t make mention of Jesus from start to finish, not to mention his saving work for us. You probably have, too. Every word of the sermon may have been true. But the preacher was not building with God or using his tools. How could he be when the gospel was missing? Paul called the gospel “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” in Romans 1. He told the Corinthians earlier in this letter, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Where there is no gospel there is no progress on the house God is building. Everything God builds has to be built with his grace.
Paul urges us to give special attention to this: “…I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.” Every Christian today builds on a foundation that others have laid down in the past. Many things about ministry have changed over the years. Some of these changes are legitimate as God’s church faces new challenges and works in new contexts. We worship in a different (earthly) building. We sing and pray from different books in different languages led by different men. The faces of those sitting in the pews change across the years.
Only let this be the same: that we build using the gospel as our tool, and on the sure foundation God himself has laid.