I find life as a Christian to be an awesome privilege, an amazing adventure, and an awful lot of hard work. It is not easy to maintain spiritual growth as I contend with my brokenness, manage my responsibilities, and negotiate relationships. And although I very much appreciate the support and active help of the indwelling Holy Spirit, the fact remains that I have work to do.
In his letter to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul has this reminder for them: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The mysterious synergy of the Holy Spirit and my own will is an incredibly powerful concept, but it still leaves me wondering what it is that the Holy Spirit does and what it is that I am supposed to do.
It has recently occurred to me, though, that the question is not what I do, but rather how I do it. Do I approach my Christian life as one of the builders of the Tower of Babel or as one of the builders of King Solomon’s Temple?
If we look at the story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11, the people chose to build for themselves a city with a tower that reached into heaven with the expressed purpose of making a name for themselves. The entire operation was their plan, for their purposes, and for their glory.
The building of the Temple by King Solomon was almost certainly a project of much greater proportions. But it differed from the very beginning. Solomon initiated his project in response to the LORD’s giving him rest on every side of his kingdom, for the expressed purpose of building a house for the name of the LORD his God, and according to God’s plan. While Solomon managed the project—for seven years, the entire operation was according to God’s plan, for His purposes, and for His glory.
I find that the comparison between the Tower of Babel and the building of the Temple by King Solomon is compelling as I approach my own Christian life. It allows me to appreciate that God has made me to be intense, energetic, and focused even as it reminds me to submit those gifts to His sovereign will and to use them for His purposes and His glory.
It is easy to think that the building of my life pales in comparison to the building of the Temple. I do not have King Solomon’s resources! It is impossible to imagine that my life will be any bit as glorious as the Temple. But the Temple was not eternal. It was destroyed, as was its successor. My life—and yours—is eternal. In fact, the Apostle Paul taught the believers in Corinth that each of them was a temple of the Lord, filled by the Holy Spirit, and holy to Him.
May we not take lightly the privilege and responsibility of working out our salvation under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, as we become eternal holy temples to the glory of the Lord our God.