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||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||

The Foundation and the Building


I would like to meditate with you in the teachings

of St. Paul the Apostle about the spiritual building, as

mentioned in his first Epistle to Corinthians, where he


“According to the grace of God which was

given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid

the foundation, and another builds on it. But let

each one take heed how he builds on it. For no

other foundation can anyone lay than that which

is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone

builds on this foundation with gold, silver,

precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's

work will become clear; for the Day will declare

it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the

fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is.”

(1 Co 3:10-13).

So what are Gold, silver, and Precious Stones?

And what is Straw? And what is the fire?

A Wise Master Builder:

In the English translation of the Bible, New King

James V., came the sentence (A wise Master builder)

meaning a wise teaching builder. And St. Paul the

Apostle as a Master in building placed Jesus Christ as

a foundation to every spiritual building in our

doctrine. Christ is the foundation in his redemption to

s and in every work he made for us.

But what can we build on the foundation of

this doctrine?

Here appears the difference between one person

and the other and between the behaviors of each of


A person whose building is of gold, silver and

precious stones, if was tested by the fire or trials and

tribulations does not lose his salvation but becomes

better. Because the fire does not burn the gold but

purifies it of impurities.

But if a person’s building was of wood, hay or

straw, it will burn. Straw burns fast, wood burns in a

longer duration. And hey burns with a smoke. And

thus all the work is wasted and it is hard to save it.

So let’s meditate together in all these types of

building s and what they symbolize.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

First, we start with the superior building,

which is made of gold, silver and precious


This is what the fire cannot beat. No doubt that

this building symbolizes the three big virtues that the

apostle mentioned in (1 Co 13:13) and I mean: faith,

hope and love, added to them other characteristics.


To have a stable spiritual building that does not

vanish, get burnt or shaken, you have to have a real


And what is meant by faith is not just mental

faith but practical faith.

Millions of people have the mental faith. And even

St. James the Apostle says: “You believe that there is

one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and

tremble!” (Jas 2:19). He means that they only have

faith in God but all their deeds are evil. Thus the

apostle says in the same chapter that faith without

works is dead (Jas 2:17, 20).

And the practical faith has levels of which

the highest is the faith that moves mountains.

About that faith our Lord talked in (Mk 11:23), (Mt

17:20) and (Mt 21:32).

And the church history talked a lot about faith

and heroes of faith.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

If you have a strong practical faith in your life,

the Lord says to you: “If you can believe, all

things are possible to him who believes” (Mk


Meaning that through faith, nothing stands

against you, but God’s hand work miracles with you.

How beautiful is the Lord’s saying to Martha, talking

about the death and the raising of her brother

Lazarus, “Did I not say to you that if you would

believe you would see the glory of God?” (Jn 11:40).

And of the importance of faith is that in many of

the miracles He made, the Lord Christ used to first

ask the person: Do you believe? Like He did with the

two blind men (Mt 9:28-30), or he said to who was

healed: “your faith has made you well.” (Lk 8:48)

and (Mk 10:51, 52).

And strange enough that it was said to the Lord

that He did not make any miracles in his country and

that was because they did not believe in him and

doubted him (Mk 6:3-5).

􀂙 Some people may have doubts and that’s why no

miracles happen to them. Faith had to be stronger

than doubts.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Faith is the substance of things hoped for,

the evidence of things not seen (He 11:1).

You have to believe that God is capable of

working and that He loves you and wants to work for

your sake. Therefore, do not panic, be afraid or


You should also believe in things that you did not

witness with your eyes and “Blessed are those who

have not seen and yet have believed.” (Jn 20:29)…

You should believe that God sees everything you do,

hears everything you say, and keeps track of

everything, even thoughts of the mind, desires of the

heart, intensions and hidden matters. If you believe


in all this a full faith, you will be embarrassed to

commit a sin and be scared because God sees and

keeps track.

And the true faith includes your faith that

the sin in directed to God.

Like prophet David said in the psalm 50: “Against

You only I have sinned, and done evil before You” and

Joseph the Virtuous said: “How then can I do this

great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Gn 39:9).

All this because sin is a disobedience of God’s

orders, opposition against Him, rejection of the work

of the Holy Spirit in the heart, and resistance against

the grace work and an indication of one not being

embarrassed from God who sees him or forgetting

this while committing sin.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

There are other things related to faith from

the side of forgiving and sin.

Like believing that the sin is not forgiven except

through redemption and by putting it over the Lord to

erase it with His blood. So, you through sin, add extra

weight on his cross or more bitter drops in a cup for

Him to drink…

And you have to believe that without heart purity

no one will be able to see the Lord and believe that

only the pure in heart will see the God (Mt 5:8).

And believe that one day you will stand before

God’s judgment seat and you will receive the things

done in the body, according to what he has done,

whether good or bad (2 Co 5:10). And that is what

the church teaches you everyday in the Retiring

(Compline) Prayer where you say: “Behold, I am

about to stand before the Just Judge terrified and

trembling because of my many sin…” holding before

you the Lord’s saying: “unless you repent you will all

likewise perish” (Lk 13:3-5).

Faith also includes believing in all his

commandments and teachings and abiding by them…

this is the faith that is part of the building that is

made of gold, silver and precious stones.

What else comes besides faith too? There is Love

and its importance.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿


It is not sufficient to only believe in God but

better to love Him too.

And when the Lord Jesus Christ was asked about

the first commandment in the Law He said that it is

love: loving God and people: “'You shall love the

LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul,

and with all your mind.' This is the first and great

commandment. And the second is like it: "You shall

love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Mt 22:36-39).

And because of this the apostle said about the

three great commandments faith, hope, love, “but the

greatest of these is love” (1 Co 13:13).

And said: “Love never fails” (1Co 13:8).

And it was said in the Song of Solomon book

about love that: “Many waters cannot quench love,

Nor can the floods drown it” (Sgs 8:7).

You have faith, that is good, but you can build

more in it with love as the apostle says: “faith

working through love” (Ga 5:6). And says: “and

though I have all faith, so that I could remove

mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Co


Therefore the Lord says: “My son, give me your

heart, And let your eyes observe my ways” (Pr

23:26). A love from the heart has the fruit of keeping

the commandments.

And therefore the Lord says: “If you love Me,

keep My commandments” (Jn 14:15).

And He says also: “If you keep My

commandments, you will abide in My love” (Jn

15:10). And St. Augustine says: “Love, then do

afterwards whatever you wish for”, meaning do

whatever you wish for in the God’s Love. And the

apostle made love the first fruit of the fruits of the

Spirit (Ga 5:22).

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

And the desired love is to love God more

than anything and more than everyone, and

even more than the whole world…

From the side of the world St John the apostle

says: “If anyone loves the world, the love of the

Father is not in him.” (1 Jn 2:15). And St. James the

apostle says: “friendship with the world is enmity with

God” (Jas 4:4).

And our Master the Lord says: “He who loves

father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me.

And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is

not worthy of Me.” (Mt 10:37).

And the bible gave you and example in our father

Abraham who loved God more than his only son

whose soul loves him and accepted to offer him as a

burnt out of his deep love to God and obedience to

Him (Gn 22).

So if you wanted to build your life a spiritual

building, on God’s love ask yourself in a total

frankness: do you love anything or anyone more than

God? Is there something in your heart that competes

with God?

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

I remember a story in the visiting in troubles

service that happened with us around 55 years


We were servants in Sunday School. And we went

to visit one of the brothers who did not come to the

church and we sat and each of us started asking him

about the reason behind him stopping to come to the

church meetings? And our questions started to

increase. But a spiritual servant from among us said

to him: “I do not want to tire you with many

questions, but I want to ask you one question. Do you

now love God as you used to before?!”.

And of course that was the core of the subject

because if his love to God was the same as it was, he

would have never stopped going to the church. Thus

said the Lord to the angel of the Church of Ephesus “I

have this against you, that you have left your first

love” (Rev 2:4).

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

The love of martyrs o our Lord is what made

them sacrifice their lives for Him.

Each one of them loved God more than himself

and more than worldly life. This love made him

receive death in joy and the Lord said: “Greater love

has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for

his friends.” (Jn 15:13).

Yes, this is the love. For many people say that

they love God but the time of trial shows whether

they really loved God or not. “The fire will test each

one's work, of what sort it is” (1 Co 3:13).


And the fire may be temptations, tribulations, or

fights from devils… maybe then you discover that you

have a certain covetousness that prevent you from

loving God for you love this covetousness more than

you love God!!

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

We said out of gold, silver and precious stones:

faith, love and there is also hope in eternal life.

Hope in Eternal Life:

If you are thinking about your eternal life,

you would have never sinned.

Because of this, the church taught us to put

eternity before us everyday so we say on our

Compline prayer “If life were everlasting, and this

world ever-existing, you would have an excuse, O my

soul.”… “But repent, O my soul, so long as you dwell

on this earth, for inside the grave, dust does not


Truly, if the human thought constantly in his

eternity and in standing before the just God’s seat of

judgment, he would have been scared and never


􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

Other Matters:

􀂙 Among the precious stones that you build

your life with is: communion of the Holy Spirit.

This is what St. Paul the apostle mentioned in (2 Co


Meaning that you become in a communion with

the Holy Spirit in every thing you do, in every thought

that comes to your mind and every desire you feel in

your heart. Ask yourself in all this: is the Holy Spirit

in communion with you in this or not?! And if not,

stay away from everything that the Holy Spirit does

not commune into with you.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿

􀂙 There is also abiding in God.

The Lord says: “Abide in Me, and I in you” (Jn

15:4). And says: “abide in My love” (Jn 15:9). And

this abiding resembles the branch abiding in the vine

so that it bears fruits…

The person abiding in the Lord is not movable

easily. And the apostle says: “Therefore, my beloved

brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding

in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not

in vain in the Lord.” (1 Co 15:58).

􀂙 Also among the precious stones that you

build your spiritualities with is: Depth. Depth in

your prayers, in your meditations, in your

understanding of the bible, in your service, in caring

about others and in every spiritual work you do.

􀀿 􀀿 􀀿


If this is how things are, then what is the straw

that is burnt?

􀂙 An example of the straw is: shallowness of the

spiritual life that has no depth. Like a worship without

understanding, a communion out of the habit and a

confession without repentance with which you take

forgiveness of the past sins to open an account of sins

of the same type!

􀂙 Another example is a prayer without humility,

without depth and without passion, only listing of

words of which St. Mar Isaac warned by saying: “Say

I have not stand before God to prepare words…”!

􀂙 Another example of straw is: Reading the Holy

Bible without understanding or meditation. Or

attending sermons without doing what is heard, but

just as a presence… or a worship on which applies the

Lord’s saying: “Inasmuch as these people draw near

with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But

have removed their hearts far from Me” (Is 29:13).

􀂙 It is only an appearance or a sort of religious

appearance to gain people’s praising and not out of a

virtue and love for the good… Just straw…

􀂙 The spiritual trial comes and burns all this straw

and the person falls and all his work is wasted


It is the fire of trial that tests the person’s work

and how close he is to God in all what he does. And

are his virtues abiding in God’s love or not?

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