One of most renowned structures in the world is the Eiffel Tower. Built to observe the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution and to display France’s industrial expertise and architectural creativity, the Eiffel Tower was the leading attraction of the Universal Exposition (World’s Fair) of 1889 in Paris. Designed and constructed by French engineer Gustave Eiffel in 1887, it is the tallest structure in Paris at 1,063 feet (324 meters). Regarded as a work of art, the Eiffel Tower is a global tourist attraction visited by over five million people annually.
While many individuals marvel at the Eiffel Tower’s artistry and beauty, another of its fine characteristics often goes unappreciated simply because it is hidden. What is this feature? It’s the foundation. As a highly-skilled engineer, Gustave Eiffel understood the vital importance of building on a firm footing. And, since the Eiffel Tower has stood strong and steady for 136 years, it’s a testimony to his engineering proficiency. Of course, rock-solid underpinnings are not limited to physical structures. Consider that Jesus Christ, as the living Head of His spiritual body, the Church, described Himself as the unshakable groundwork on which it is being constructed. He said that nothing could topple this matchless, divine edifice (Matthew 16:18).
Rewarded According to Your Labor
Now consider this amazing circumstance: Out of the billions of people on earth, God the Father called you into His Church and gave you the marvelous opportunity to construct your life on the solid foundation of Christ (John 6:44; Luke 6:47-48). The apostle Paul treasured this fact while recognizing that it was only by means of God’s strength and inspiration that he could build anything of lasting value (1 Corinthians 3:5-7). Furthermore, he made this significant observation, “Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (verse 8, emphasis added throughout). This means that every disciple will eventually be rewarded relative to the work he or she has accomplished (Philippians 2:12-13). Paul then wrote, “I only say this, let the builder be careful how he builds” (1 Corinthians 3:10, JB Phillips translation).
This is a serious warning to all fellow laborers with God (verse 9). As one of them you must be very careful about how you build on the foundation of Christ and with what materials you are using. Being a diligent, dedicated builder is critical because any defects in what you construct will be a result of your own efforts. This is made clear in 1 Corinthians 3:12-13 which states, “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear” (verses 12-13).
What Are You Made Of?
When you consider gold and silver, these are certainly beautiful, valuable and treasured materials, especially in their gleaming, finished condition. In addition, precious stones, after having been cut and polished, reveal sparkling, exquisite radiance. Conversely, wood, hay and straw are commonplace resources which have significantly less value. What should these metaphors mean when you contemplate the magnificent future awaiting you in God’s coming Kingdom? It should be crystal clear that God wants to know what you are truly “made of.” Meaning, what’s in the depth of your heart and mind? He desires to know if you thoroughly grasp the enormous magnitude of your calling and are prioritizing His purposes above everything else in your life. He seeks to know if you are absolutely determined to do everything you can to become a son or daughter in His eternal family, regardless of difficulties and obstacles you face (2 Corinthians 6:18).
These are crucial issues because the foundational spiritual qualities you build into your life over the years—your character, service, love, obedience and devotion—will eventually be put to the test. “Each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done” (1 Corinthians 3:13, NET Bible). In Scripture, fire symbolically represents either a method of purification or a means of destruction or consumption (Matthew 3:11-12). So, it’s an apt symbol for God’s judgment as He appraises the value of your efforts as one of His disciples.
How Much do You Treasure God?
If you are constructing your heart, mind and character out of gold, silver and precious stones—which essentially means doing the best and the most of which you are capable, through a robust and consistent relationship with God—you will be blessed immensely. “If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward” (1 Corinthians 3:14). On the contrary, weak, ineffective works—symbolized by wood, hay and straw—which basically means doing the least of which you are capable, will not survive the test of fire.
In referring to performing “works” many traditional Christians say this promotes the concept of earning one’s salvation. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth since the Bible plainly reveals that salvation is God’s gift, which is impossible to earn (Ephesians 2:8). However, it’s clear that you must do your part to demonstrate how much you deeply treasure God and the astounding future He offers you. As you work on personally developing godly righteousness through God’s Spirit, you are also obligated to employ your talents to help and support others. The apostle Peter wrote, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace” (1 Peter 4:10, New International Version).
Building and Employing Your Talents
But some may say, “How can I help others since I don’t have any special talents?” or “How do I compare with others who are serving all the time?” If you equate your intelligence, personality, love or accomplishments with those of other people, you are “not wise” according to Scripture (2 Corinthians 10:12). Rather than admiring another person’s aptitudes and works, it would be more advantageous to discover, build and employ the ones God has given you—however small or modest they may seem to be (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
Regarding using your talents to serve others, you should certainly take into account your life’s circumstances. These would include, for example, your age and health condition, working and commuting hours, the age of children at home and various other factors. Therefore, within the parameters of your abilities and situation, you ought to strive to do the maximum of which you are capable. While you certainly can’t do everything, you can do something—even if it’s as simple as visiting people who are infirmed or lonely, sending cards of concern and support or making phone calls of friendship and encouragement. In addition, your zealous prayers on behalf of those who are enduring difficult trials can have a significant result because God hears and graciously responds (James 5:16). It is through the power of God’s Spirit that you have the opportunity to use your talents to produce excellent results in your own life and in the lives of others.
The Choice is Yours and the Time is Now
Gustave Eiffel understood the importance of building on a firm foundation in constructing the Eiffel Tower. In a significantly greater way, Jesus Christ is the very rock-solid foundation of His Church. As one of His beloved disciples, you have a significant choice about what materials you are using right now in constructing your spiritual life. Are you choosing gold, silver and precious stones which will survive the test of fire? Or are you using wood, hay and straw which will not? Therefore, as a builder, be very careful how you build.