Building Wisely

Recently I spent time working on our construction project in the village of Szentmargitfalva in southwestern Hungary. We are building a small chapel for the Methodist church there. When I arrived along with the first construction team, the foundation for the chapel had been laid but there was no structure on it.

However, there was a problem. The workers who laid the foundation didn’t follow the building plans very well. There were several mistakes made which required making several changes to how the structure would be built. The foundation was still solid and usable, but it wasn’t built exactly according to the plans. Because of that, the blueprint that the architect had drawn up was almost entirely useless. But it was time to start building, and he didn’t have time to draw up a new set of plans.

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Chuck Long (left) gives instructions as the building starts going up.

Fortunately, the building itself was small and relatively simple. We also had one other thing going for us. Chuck Long, who was overseeing the building of the chapel, is a very experienced master builder. He knew what had to be done to make the chapel come together, even without a set of plans. He consulted with the architect, but then the architect left and we were on our own with no plans. So Chuck told us what to do, and we did it. And the building started coming together (as of this writing there is a team in Szentmargitfalva continuing the project under Chuck’s wise leadership).

This all reminded me of the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 3:10. Paul writes that “According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.” In Paul’s case, he was the skilled master builder who laid the foundation. In our case, the foundation was laid by someone who wasn’t careful enough. Nevertheless, the exhortation to take care how we build upon the foundation is true not only in the world of construction projects, but also in the spiritual life.

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I pound in a stake under Chuck’s watchful eye.

One day the quality of our workmanship will be tested (1 Cor. 3:13). If we have built carefully and wisely, following the instructions of the master builder, then what we have built will last. If, on the other hand, we have built carelessly, without taking the time, patience, and effort that is needed for a solid structure, then our work will be ruined (1 Cor. 3:15). The question is whether or not we are paying attention to the instructions of the Master.

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