Antonio Stradivari who died in December 1737 is widely regarded as the greatest ever builder of string instruments such as violins. During his life he built around 1,100 instruments of which 650 are believed to survive to this day, including an estimated 500 or so violins. In December 2013 a Stradivarius violin, which was made in 1696, was sold at auction for £1.38 million. It seems incredible; firstly that this instrument should have survived for over 325 years; and secondly that someone was prepared to pay such a vast sum for it. Of course, Stradivarius violins are renowned for their musical qualities making them highly prized possessions; the record amount paid for one is a staggering £10 million.
I wonder what legacy your life will leave. How much of what you have invested your time and energy in will survive and be remembered in 10 or 50 years time, let alone 300 years like Stradivari? Paul saw his life’s work as being like constructing a building, working like a master craftsman on the foundation of Jesus Christ. He encouraged the Corinthians to build upon the same foundation and to consider the longevity of what they built. He illustrated the durability of their work by comparing it to building with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and straw, which he warned would be tested with fire on the Day of Christ’s return. Paul tells us the outcome of this testing: If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 1 Corinthians 3:14 (ESV).
Few of us will achieve the long lasting reputation of Stradivari, and even if we did it is of no use to us once, like him, we have died. Yet these verses in Corinthians indicate that there are eternal rewards to be had for those who build wisely. How can we earn these rewards? The key seems to be the foundation we choose to build on. Civil engineers take great care to ensure that the foundation is right for the building that is to be erected upon it. Likewise the wise spiritual builder builds everything on the foundation of Christ. Paul wrote: For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 (ESV). Only those who build on the foundation of Christ will receive a reward. And only what is built on the foundation of Christ will be rewarded. At the start of the New Year why not take time to evaluate every area of your life – work, family, leisure, church – and ask yourself: ‘To what extent is Christ the foundation of this in my life at the moment?’ There is a line in a song that we used to sing that said: ‘I want to give my life, for something that will last forever.’ Why choose to build with wood, hay and straw when you can build for eternity?
This blog post featured in the January 2014 edition of Lifelines