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My wife and I recently purchased our first home. During escrow, an inspector crawled under the house, looked through every nook and cranny, and climbed into the attic to see if the house had any problems that needed to be fixed. There were very few, but one caught my attention: there was a crack in the foundation.
In Missouri, houses are built on raised foundations rather than slabs, so it’s pretty easy to spot a crack. I asked the inspector whether the crack was something to worry about. “No,” he said, “although you need to hire a contractor to fill it with resin so it doesn’t grow. If it grows, it will become a problem.” And that’s precisely what we did.
We don’t often consider the foundations of our houses because we almost never see them. But Paul was like the inspector who looked at my house. It was his job to determine the safety of the Corinthians’ spiritual house, so he paid attention to everything, especially its foundation.
But Paul was more than a safety inspector. He was a conscientious builder. He paid attention to the foundation of the Corinthians’ faith because he had laid it. Consider what he writes in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11:
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.
In theology, the word grace usually refers to “God’s unmerited favor.” I like the acronym for grace that describes it as “God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense.” In these verses, grace doesn’t refer to salvation, however; it refers to spiritual gifting. In Greek, the word for grace is charis and the word for gift is charisma. Salvation and spiritual gifting are related. If God saves you, he spiritually gifts you to influence others. Paul’s specific grace was evangelizing Gentiles, such as the Corinthians.
But Paul knew that apart from Jesus Christ, God has no good news for us. In Romans 6:23 he writes: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.” We have a choice to make: death or life. Bad news or good news. Life is a gracious gift of God, but it only comes “through Jesus Christ.”
To switch back to Paul’s building metaphor, Jesus Christ is the foundation on which God builds his spiritual house in us. If salvation comes through Jesus Christ, then no one can point to another way. No one can lay another foundation.
Paul wasn’t the only spiritual gifted person. God has gifted you and me too. We too are spiritual builders, though not necessarily in the same way as Paul. Therefore, we too must pay attention to the spiritual foundation.
Do we use our influence to bring people to Jesus Christ and to help them become more Christlike?