Gold, Silver, and Precious Stones
Building with gold, silver, and precious stones means investing in other's lives in a costly way. The most important thing one can bring to the building site is a prepared life, a heart in-touch with God. A general knowledge base, the stuff you've just found lying around...is no substitute for real care.
I Cor. 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, for no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 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. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.”
Building with Costly Materials
This verse came to me recently as I was feeling “out of kilter”, missing the mark somehow. It wasn’t really a case of gross, blatant, rebellious sin, but something was not clicking, something was out of step. I was thinking and praying about it, and the verse, especially the one that had to do with gold, silver and precious stones, was the one that came to mind. As I started thinking about the verse, a lot of things really started to make sense. I came to the conclusion that I was building; however, I wasn’t building with gold, silver and costly stones. It was building, but it wasn’t out of the expensive materials. It was out of the less precious ones.
There were a couple of things that were really convicting and especially struck a cord. What does it mean to build in the first place? We get up in the morning, go to work, interact with different people, do different activities, and go to bed. But what really constitutes building? How would you know if what you were building was being built with gold, silver and costly stones? It’s definitely a question worth asking.
Some examples of what it could mean to build are, perhaps—serving other people, speaking to other people, investing in other lives. I think those things, among others, are probably what it means to build. What we do with God’s time, if we build, is probably going to involve those things—investing, serving, speaking. But if you are going to build with gold, silver and costly stones, things that are expensive, it’s going to cost you something. You can’t build with those things without it costing you something. It might cost time, emotional resources, money, lack of sleep, etc. If you are building with the inexpensive materials, the stuff that you can just pick up along the way, then it won’t cost you very much.
One distinction I realized is that building with the inexpensive materials can get in the way of gold, silver and precious stones. If you take a long-term view of your life, you want to make it count. You want to live for God. So you might take some steps, in a long-term sort of way with God. You might forsake your career. You might move to another place to be joined and knit to a group of people. You might do a lot like that because, long-term, you want to position yourself to be in the way of God’s blessing. You want to put yourself in the place where God will honor your life. You are willing to sacrifice some independence, some privacy. But that’s long term. That’s not the day-to-day stuff.
Long Term vs. Short Term Investment
It is possible to have the long-term right and be way off with the short-term. It’s possible to put yourself in a position to not pursue career, money, privacy, nor your own interests and selfishness. It’s possible to put yourself in the midst of a group of people and make some sacrifices for the long term. It is possible to do all of that and still be missing it in the daily things, the things where it’s going to count—your heart preparation, your life, the way that you invest in people, the kind of intercession that’s taking place in your life. In building with other people and the preparation that’s required, it’s possible to have the long term right and still be slipshod in how we deal with specific situations.
For example, if you need to talk with someone—a neighbor, a co-worker, or a roommate… when it’s time to build, are you waltzing into it? Or is the preparation that’s required taking place? Is there a really deep care? Is there a concern? Have there been materials that have been selected that are costly to you? You’ve cared, you’ve considered, you’ve thought, and then you bring that with you when it comes time to build and to speak into someone’s life.
Remember that it’s possible to have the long-range things okay, or seemingly okay, but, due to laziness or a lackadaisical attitude, not be on target with the short-range, day-to-day things, the situations where you need to be sharp. It is going to make all the difference between God being able to work through you, with you as the conduit…versus YOU talking and approaching the situation, speaking words, but somehow the hand of God just isn’t on it. His hand is elsewhere. And it’s not that you aren’t building. It’s not that you aren’t willing to build, even. You are willing to talk to people. You are willing to take a step and do what you think you need to do. But the hidden preparation, the intercession, the deep caring for people…. If those things are lacking, you won’t be building with gold, silver and costly stones. You will be building with something that will burn up eventually. God will test the quality of each of our work. That’s a sobering thought, but a true one.
It would be such a tragedy to make sacrifices in your life with the long-range things (it really will cost you something to do that), but fail to allow it to cost you something each time, with each situation, with each opportunity to build. If you are not willing to pay the price then, then you have only sacrificed in the long-range and you have not given God the benefit in the short-range of really serving Him in that way.
It’s scary, but it’s good to be aware of that danger in order to avoid it. Oh, that there would be no lack of the deep concern and intercession necessary to walk into situations with genuine care for others. It’s easy to have a more general attitude of, “Yeah, I should…yeah, I’m supposed to,” without there being a deep care and a desire for the other person’s benefit in a real, Godly way.
Busyness Is Not the Issue
You can spend as much time building with wood, hay and stubble as another person might spend building with gold, silver and costly stones. Busyness isn’t the issue.
You can’t really take comfort in busyness, because if it’s not with the good materials, it’s not going to amount to anything. Make sure things count. If God is going to work through things, it will be through a cross. It will be through something costly.
If you use the analogy that Paul uses of building something, then there’s the hammering, putting things together, doing the framing, the outside of the house, the roof, etc. If that’s the actual building, then what takes place prior to that is material selection. You have to bring something of Christ that’s been developed through a personal relationship with God.
It would be such a tragedy. You make the sacrifices long-term in your life. Then you spend all day building and hammering. But if you haven’t been very discriminating in what you’ve chosen to build with, in terms of your life, your heart, your character and your moldability before God—you are not going to be able to build anything that will last. It’s a word of warning. It’s serious. But it can also be a very freeing thing. Maybe you feel like you are doing things, but a vital element is lacking. You are not bringing the precious things to bear. You’re not bringing the precious things to brothers and sisters in Christ and others as you spend time with people the way you know God would like. It’s a very freeing thing to know that and to know that it’s possible to care about people. God will draw us to a deep concern, so that we really want to bring the spirit of Christ and holiness and humility whenever we build, whenever we are with people.
What You Bring Is Who You Are
Building up the life of Christ in other people could be one of the purposes for building. You can look at it corporately—building together the church. You can also see it on an individual basis—to labor to present every man perfect in Christ, to build and to strengthen, to encourage the Christ within a brother or sister, to labor to see Jesus in the first place in the heart of someone who doesn’t yet believe.
“Most men fritter their lives away in detail.” You can fritter away your life doing this and that, and miss the important things in life. Don’t waste your time on “things.” Have more of a vision. Build with gold, silver and costly stones. If you are operating from a basis of wasting time, then that is what you bring to bear with your brothers and sisters. If you have a pattern of being driven by circumstances and “Oh, well, I guess I’ll do this….” If there’s a low level of vision (when it should be much higher), then that’s what you bring to the table every time you talk to someone. That’s who you are. That’s what you are living out of. If you are not connected to the Head and feeling the rivers of flowing water. If the sap (evidence that you are connected to the Vine the way you ought to be) is not filling your life and making you bloom and blossom. If you don’t have anything to offer people (or the only thing you have to offer people is something that’s somehow tainted), then it falls short. The words are true, but they are not God.
“I Want to Build with Silver and Gold in my Generation…”
It’s a freeing thing to build with gold, silver and precious stones. Care about people. Spend the time in secret, spend the time being very discriminating, selecting the materials. An artist that’s going to sculpt something doesn’t just take any kind of material. He is very discriminating and will take the best. He is very careful with what he uses for materials. Each of us, if we are building in each other’s lives, needs to be very discriminating. Don’t bring to your brothers and sisters a life that’s somehow lacking when it’s within your ability to change that. We owe that to each other. We owe each other a life that’s in touch with God, a life that has taken the time and paid the price to dig for the gold, the silver and the precious stones, and to produce those things; to have some of the vision of God and the life of God within us as we spend time with each other. Maybe we need to point out sin. Maybe we need to encourage. I’m not sure what we will have to do. But with co-workers, with neighbors, whomever it is, if you would just spend the time in the secret place selecting precious things—things that will last, considering how to encourage, considering what might be next on God’s mind with this person at work…
“I want to give my life for something that will last forever…. I want to build with silver and gold in my generation…”