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
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
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
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
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
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
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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