To handle troublemakers in his school, one principal created a detention class. Students that misbehaved would go there at the end of the school day and sit for thirty minutes. They couldn’t talk, do schoolwork, nap or use their phone. They had to sit for 30 minutes and listen to Frank Sinatra music. The amount of class disruptions went down dramatically as the kids shared of this cruel and unusual punishment.
Last week we discovered God has a plan for troublemakers. He uses them to show the difference in His will and man’s will. They provide the contrast between the saved life and the lost life. How He deals with troublemakers becomes a deterrent to others who might also consider rebelling. The consequence of the troublemakers’ actions warns others not to go down the same road they went down.
The essential problem with Corinthian Christians was their practice of blurring the line between worldly and spiritual. Within that blurred line, they were acting like what they weren’t – natural men. Paul coined the phrase when he described them as fleshly – saved people living like their salvation made no difference in how they lived, who regularly gave in to the urgings of their flesh instead of resisting and seeking God’s best.
Paul accused them of living as though there was no distinction between Christians and people of the world, and as though how they lived had no effect on their fellowship with God.
1Cor 1:9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Relationship is the result of being right with God. Fellowship is the result of living right with Him.
We saw that, in troublemakers who were willing to divide instead of unify the church. Today, Paul broadens his concern to include compromising troublemakers. The lesson: to teach us God is faithful to provide the building materials for an uncompromised life.
1Cor 3:11-15 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Paul saw that the Corinthians were compromised by what they were allowing into their lives. A little God, a little paganism. A pinch of God, a splattering of sensuality. A dab of God, a grab from their old ways. How could he get them to understand they couldn’t fellowship with God if their priority was fulfilling selfish desires? By showing the consequences of building a house using substandard materials.
If you’ve been to Home Depot or Lowe’s, you’ve seen substandard materials mixed in with the good stuff. Builders will pick over the boards, selecting the straight ones and leaving the crooked ones behind. Why do they leave them behind? Those boards are essentially useless. You can’t build a solid, straight wall with crooked boards.
Ever wonder what happens to the crooked boards? Occasionally you’ll find them in a discounted bin, a clearance rack. Because the store knows that at a reduced price somebody will think they’re worth buying, take them home and try to use them to build something.
The Corinthians were using material from the clearance rack to build their lives and the results were disappointing and the quality of their lives was inferior.
Typical in comparisons in Scripture, Paul uses extremes to make his point. He contrasts building materials of wood, hay and straw with gold, silver and precious stones. It is unlikely anyone would consider using gold and silver and precious stones. He was making a point to distinguish lasting value from temporary value. Wood, hay and straw had no lasting value. Gold, silver and precious stones did.
His point? Make sure the material you’re using to build your life has lasting value, that it makes a long-term difference, that you don’t invest in one-night stands to fulfill some desire in your life instead of a life-time commitment.
Don’t cheapen your life when He wants you to have heaven’s riches.
Young son-in-law-to-be was assigned the task of supervising the building of a new house. He was given a budget and told to build it for this amount. Needing extra money for the honeymoon, he cut corners, used inferior quality materials, substandard workers and pocketed the extra money. When his father-in-law-to-be returned, he presented the house to the young man as a wedding gift.
A life, like a house, will be inferior if built with inferior materials. Such as: giving in to the passion of fleshly desires rather than seeking the provisions of the Spirit.
Gal 5:19-23 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these…
Eating junk food satisfies a moment but adds no value to our diet. Paul says, when our primary diet is the world’s junk, we will not build a healthy spiritual life. A life based on junk produces a life that disappoints rather than delights us in what God has promised. Why? It can’t sustain our lives.
A Snickers bar may give me satisfying delight and a burst of energy when I eat it, but soon after it’s all gone, I’m back where I was, wanting another.
The junk the world offers to satisfy, but instead, creates desires inconsistent with godliness. Fear, worry, anger, hatred, rebellion, jealousy, greed cannot achieve the righteousness of God. But when we accept those as normal, we forfeit what the Spirit is offering: the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…
In Luke, Jesus is teaching a crowd described as many thousands of people. He says many of the things He said during the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, which probably means this was the same teaching. He said:
Luke 12:7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
Matt 6:25 For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
What’s Jesus saying? Can we get a little perspective on what’s most valuable?
Matt 6:31-33 Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
The message: God will provide everything you need for a meaningful and satisfying life.
Luke 12:13-15 Someone in the crowd said to Him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me." But He said to him, "Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?" Then He said to them, "Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions."
Your mind is in the world. You’re addicted to the junk food. You think what you possess gives your life value. You are mistaken. You’ve missed the message.
Luke 12:16-21 And He told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man was very productive. And he began reasoning to himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?' Then he said, 'This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry."' But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?' So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."
Nothing this man did was wrong. He was a successful businessman making a plan and working that plan. Why did God call him a fool? His motive was greed. He had built his whole life on things that only had temporary value and by his desire to only satisfy himself, had missed the greater value of what God could have done in his life.
Jesus prayed for His disciples and us: John 17:15-16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
One of the hardest jobs we have as Christians is to live in the world and not be of the world. Being in the world means we are earth-focused, that right and wrong are determined on ground level by society, that the highest priority in life is to satisfy ourselves here and now. Not being of the world means we live with a higher calling, resisting the downward spiral of earthly desires that lead to unrighteous behavior.
What the world allows, God tells us to run from. Why? These desires influence a lifestyle contrary to who we are in Christ. Old computer term: GIGO – garbage in/garbage out. What I allow into my life will come out of my life.
Gal 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
Or we harvest what we plant. Each seed has the life of the plant in it. What will grow is the life contained within the seed.
- Can’t plan seeds of discord and expect unity.
- Can’t plant seeds of hatred and expect love.
- Can’t plant seeds of worry and expect peace.
But you can plant:
- Seeds of trust and expect God’s faithfulness.
- Seeds of surrender and expect God’s guidance.
- Seeds of commitment and expect God’s goodness.
Invest in growing a strong spiritual life. A life built on the provisions of God will stand.
Luke 6:47-49 Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great.
What’s the storm? Paul told the Corinthians God was going to test the quality of each man’s work, the content of his life. Those tests are described as fire. The fire will be severe and consuming. But the well-built house will stand. Because the material God provides can withstand the flames, like gold, silver and precious stones. What God provides gives us everything we need for godliness and righteous behavior.
2Pet 1:3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
Remember the goal: fellowship with God. Fellowship with God is reflected in a life devoted to Him. To maintain fellowship with God, I must live intentionally, without compromise. That’s Paul’s message to the Corinthians. How does he expect them to do that? By choosing to keep their lifestyle pure. By continually seeking God’s direction with all their heart. By treasuring His Word until what He says becomes a priority.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to build their lives on purpose, not just let life happen as though how they lived made no difference. The fires would be severe, but the Corinthians can be adequate for what lies ahead. Because God is faithful.
Paul’s moral for the Corinthians: Don’t compromise by selecting life-building materials from the clearance rack. Select the good stuff God is faithful to provide.
- Good building materials don’t come cheap.
- The better you want the building built the more it will cost.
- 2Cor 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
- Eph 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.
- Why exchange the privilege of a well-built life for a shack that can’t handle the fire?