1 Corinthians 3:10 (NIV)
10 ...each one should be careful how he builds.
In 1 Corinthians 3:10 Paul is talking about how God used him to help build His church -- not a physical building, but the people of God. It's the people of God, not the physical building itself, that is God's church, God's temple. "God's temple is sacred, and you together are that temple" (v17).
Just as Paul was a builder, you are a builder too. Regardless of what field of study or work you are in, the fact is you are a builder. Every day you're building your life on something.
Before I became a Christian, my life was built on the foundation called "Me" - my goals, my plans, my ideas, my dreams, my desires, my happiness. It was all about me - trusting in myself. Trusting in myself is what the world touts as wisdom, but as Paul says in verse 19, "the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight" (v19). If I trust in myself and reject God, it's like building a house on sand. It might look nice for a while, but ultimately it's going to fall apart when storms come. "Me" is a shaky, deceiving, and dangerous foundation on which to build a life.
But when you become a Christian, God gives you a new foundation on which to build your life: Jesus Christ (v11). There's no foundation as strong, as sure or as forever as Jesus. Building your life on Jesus is like building a house on solid rock. It will not go away, and there's a peace, confidence and security you won't find anywhere else.
Now here's the big question: Christian, what are you building on this foundation called Christ? Are you building something that's going to survive the "fire" of God's judgment (verses 13 to 15)? Or are you building something that's just going to be burned up in that fire?
The Bible says that it is only through Jesus Christ that we are saved and go to heaven. But when we reach heaven, God will still judge every Christian according to what they have done. As 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, "we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."
In other words, he will ask every Christian: "Yes, I saved and forgave you through Jesus Christ. That's why you're in heaven now. But what did you do with this new life in Christ and the talents I gave you?"
As followers of Jesus, let's build our lives on Jesus our foundation using material that's going to last. It's what Paul in verse 12 calls "gold, silver and costly stones". In other words, let's give our lives for God's eternal purposes. Let's give ourselves for the Gospel, using our time and our talents to reach people who are far from God and lead them to Jesus. Let's give ourselves for our church. That's because there are only 2 things we will take with us from this life on earth when we die: the people we led to Christ and our brothers and sisters in Christ - the church.
If we spend the rest of our lives chasing things that will not last and doing things that have no eternal value, that's the equivalent of using wood, hay and straw to build your house when you know it's just going to be burned up in the fire. As Paul writes in verses 12 to 15:
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (NIV)
12 If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
My prayer for you is that, like Paul, you would build on the foundation of Christ as a "wise builder" (v10). May you spend the rest of your days on earth investing in things that are going to last: reaching Jesus' lost sheep, and building Jesus' church. There's no better way to use your life than that.