This is the first of two messages on “Small Matters.” The surprising application of the the words “take heed how you build” isn’t the idea of building structures. It’s all about you building on the foundation of knowing Jesus personally and then taking heed, paying attention to, the young.
“If I only knew then what I know now.”
Ever say that?
Do you remember the earthquake in Haiti in 2010?
It was a devastating 7.0 quake that struck in January of that year. The destruction was amazing and 200,000 people died in the quake.
What you might not remember is that Chile also had a powerful earthquake about 6 weeks later. That earthquake was 8.8 on the Richter Scale, about 500 times more powerful than the one in Haiti. But there the death toll was under 1,000 people. Still sad, but what accounts for the difference?
Bottom line, building standards.
I Corinthians 3.9-11
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 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.
What is Paul talking about here? He’s saying that lives are like buildings. There’s a foundation. Hopefully for you the Foundation is Jesus Christ because any other foundation is faulty. That’s the place to start. But what you build on top of the Foundation is yours with His help. A future day will test it.
The key phrase here is this: Let each one take heed how he or she builds. On it (the Foundation).
Take heed. The Greek word behind that two word phrase means “to stare at.” Guys are much better at this than ladies. Don’t get mad, just listen. We prove that we’re better at this every football season. So here I am, watching the Giants game with the guys and they’re one step away from going to the Super Bowl. And it’s intense. A wife, girlfriend or child comes into the room and asks a question. What happens. No response. Or maybe this response. Raised hand, no words. Because they’re staring at the TV. Some would argue that this ability to take heed isn’t so good. But that’s the implication of “take heed.” It means to pay close attention to.
If you only knew then what you know now. You probably would have built some things in your life differently, right? Because we understand now that what decisions and actions or inaction of the past are carried into the future. The structure you built a long time ago certainly has a bearing on the life you have now. You can see the marks of the past easily if you look.
For example, I can tell what generation you’re from by looking at the skin on your shoulder. Because a certain generation had smallpox shots when they were young. There’s a bit of a puckered scar on the shoulder of everyone from that generation has from that vaccination. At some point that smallpox vaccination was eliminated. What is built in the past affects the present and future.
Here’s an interesting picture of a tree. You know I love trees. Question: was this tree always like this? If it were in the middle of a field would it have this Pacman-like quality? No, but because tree guys like me trimmed this tree over the course of years it has this shape around the wires, something that affected the tree’s building process.
Take heed. Because what building blocks and shapes you put into place now affect the future, maybe disastrously in a day of testing.
The building analogy works for you, your family, the business you’re involved in, the church you’re involved in and the society you’re involved in.
Let’s go large and ask this question. How many of you are happy with society around you? How did we get this building? One stone at a time.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
Verses 10 and 11
“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.
There it is again. Take heed. Stare at something, Jesus is saying. Look at, stare at, the ways you are despising children. Now that word, despising, also has an interesting meaning in the Greek. It means “to think very little of.” The contrast is God’s view of children. They are each assigned an angel. If one of them is lost, misdirected, not responding, His direction is to focus on that one child until they come back to safety and health.
Why is this so important?
Let me test you. “Children are meant to be seen and ____ _____________.” Those little rug rats, crumb-crunchers, those lazy teenagers, always playing video games and never doing their homework. They get in my way.
By and large the world thinks of children as small matters as opposed to God who thinks Small Matters.
But why? Because the younger people around us are stones of the present and the future building. Take heed how you build. Because every boy or girl in your world will be not only the present but very soon be the future.
What we do as adults in affecting the young is everyone’s responsibility. Not just our own biological or adopted children either. First them but not only them.
The children in our community. Did you know that, according to a book published in 2005, that 77% of Americans do not attend a church regularly? And get this. Regular attendance is defined as attending church 3 out of 8 Sundays. We have a responsibility to create the best opportunities possible for the young to come into contact with the Gospel, to have their foundation be Jesus Christ and for them to learn how to build their lives on Him.
We also have an obligation to the children of our world. Granted, that’s large.
Next week is our church’s Compassion Sunday. We can affect the poorest children, most hopeless children in the world by sponsoring a child through Compassion International. They are the Body of Christ reaching to the one. Times 2.3 million.There will be about 50 kids available for sponsorship represented in our Cafe’ next Sunday. Consider sponsoring a child as you pray this week. Perhaps you already sponsor a child in our favorite Central Guatemalan community of Nebaj. Some of you may want to add a second child. And you may also know some people outside of our church who would want to make an eternal investment in the future by sponsoring a child now.
We have a website channel with Compassion.com that would give someone you know the face of a child in poverty.
This week and next, we’ll talk at length about how we can take heed of the young. If we do, I’ll guarantee you that we’ll build a present and a future that looks way better than the world we’re seeing now.
I said it earlier, that everyone can do something. Not everything. Something.
But here’s one last question. What do you do with a building that wasn’t built right? Do you end it? No, not usually. You remodel it. You take out the poor construction and replace it with right construction.
Many of you are still dealing with the wood, hay and straw that you were a part of as a young person. And the repercussions are just a part of your life now. God is a re-modeler. He can renew your life’s brokenness, set you on the Foundation of His Son if you don’t have that yet, and build a whole newly remodeled you.