Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Psalm 127.1.
When I come to think about it, “building” is the term that everyone uses as a metaphor for almost everything that we, as human beings, engage ourselves in on a day-to-day basis. We build relationships, build marriages, build businesses, build careers, build communities, build followings, build fellowships, build lives. And the thought in this first verse of Psalm 127 (supposedly written by David to his son Solomon) is that all such building is futile and useless unless it is being done alongside and under the direction of an invisible “gaffer” — a powerful and wise and gracious master-builder, namely, the Lord, who alone holds the plans for what the building should be because he is also the architect (Hebrews 11.10).
Jesus used the same analogy in the sermon on the mount. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7.24-27). The context for that parable is the teaching of Jesus that the key to life is an authentic relationship with himself that goes beyond merely calling him “Lord” — a relationship built on loving obedience to God’s will (Matthew 7.21-23). And it is only lives, marriages, relationships, businesses, carreers etc that are built on such a relationship that, says Jesus, will endure and survive into the age to come.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul too uses the building analogy, though he seems to be applying it to the building of local church fellowships. He sees himself as laying the foundation, which is Christ, and others then building on that foundation. “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” (1 Corinthians 3.12-13). But the point he is making is just as valid when applied to all the building in which I am engaged, day by day. Am I building on the foundation of my relationship with Jesus? Am I building alongside Jesus and in accordance with his plans and grand design? Am I building with the best materials I can find? Am I, in short, building for eternity?
Lord Jesus, please keep me ever-mindful this day of the house I am building and to build it with you and for you and to your glory. Amen.