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A Temple Built with Care

We have all heard the expression, “They don’t make them like they used to.” It is usually a commentary upon the poor craftsmanship of some product such as a washing machine, refrigerator, or even an entire house. If built with care using quality supplies, they might last a lifetime. If constructed in haste using cheap materials, they may look attractive but in due time their deficiencies will become obvious.

The same is true with the church. Scripture describes us as “God’s building” (v. 9) and “God’s temple” (v. 16). The Spirit of God dwells with us, and we have been constructed on the foundation of Jesus Christ. How we build upon that foundation, however, matters. If we build with quality materials such as “gold, silver, [and] costly stones,” the church as God’s temple will remain beautiful and strong. If, however, the church is built up with cheap materials such as “wood, hay, or straw, their work will be shown for what it is” (vv. 12–13).

As Paul reminded the Corinthian church, “each one should build with care” (v. 10). A day of judgment is coming when all that we have invested and built into the life of the church will be tested and the quality revealed (v. 13). A life built rightly on the foundation of Christ will survive the fire of judgment, but a life’s work burned up in the fire of judgment will survive “only as one escaping through the flames” (v. 15).

Paul ended his exhortation about careful building by reminding us of our underlying identity: “God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple” (v. 17)! How we build should reflect the significance of who we are as God’s temple.

Apply the Word

Rather than following the world’s pleas to build your identity with the material things of post-Christmas sales, build with the gold and silver of God’s Word (see Ps. 119:72). Whether it is daily Scripture reading and memorization or a group Bible study, find a way in the coming new year to build up “God’s temple.”

BY Bryan Stewart

Bryan A. Stewart is associate professor of religion at McMurry University in Abilene, Texas. His particular interests are the history of Christian thought and the way that early Christians interpreted the biblical canon. He is the editor of a volume on the Gospel of John in The Church’s Bible series (Eerdmans), and he has done extensive research on the ways that the early Church preached on this Gospel. He is an ordained minister. 

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