It’s such a relief to know that we don’t have to build on the foundation that’s already laid. Paul told us that he has already laid the foundation, which is Jesus Christ, and that we must be careful how we build on that foundation which has already been laid. 1 Corinthians 3:12 says “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.” Let’s look at these different items Paul mentioned in this scripture.
Gold, silver, and precious stones throughout the Bible is always referencing sound doctrine, or truth.
The breastplate of the High Priest in the Old Testament was made out of Gold, Silver and Precious Stone. The breastplate was all about the Twelve Tribes of Israel and the truth declared over the people of God. Gold, silver and precious stones represents fruit of the spirit, where as wood, hay and stubble represents works of the flesh. We can build into our belief system foundational truths, that add value and strength to what Paul has already laid; and that truth will bring freedom and liberty to us as we walk in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
But what happens when we build strange or funny doctrine into our lives? Paul uses the words wood, hay, and straw. It’s interesting to look at these words and see what the deeper meaning is behind them.
Paul uses the word “wood”, and that word is the same word used in Acts 16:24. That is where Paul and Silas were cast into the prison and their feet were put into the stocks. Stocks are a piece of wood used in those days to bind a person by their legs and hands, so they were bond up. This is not talking about a piece of fire wood, but a specific type of wood designed to bind you up. Paul is saying you can build into your life a doctrinal belief that brings bondage into your life. Take note that this scripture is talking about people that are born again, on their way to heaven; but have been filled with so much legalistic bondage they’re not enjoying their salvation experience.
The next word Paul uses is “hay or straw”. This speaks about a feeding enclosure. Now a feeding enclosure is where you bring animals into an enclosure, and you force feed them what you want them to eat; and they have no access to anything else. Some people have been in a situations, where they were force fed certain doctrines and beliefs. They had no other way of finding the right way or truth, because they were force fed a doctrine.
Another word he uses is “stubble”. Another word for stubble is reed. Reed is talking about a corn stock that has dried up, and has been stripped of all nourishment. In those days a reed was used for two things: they would use it to start a fire, or they would cut them in certain lengths, and use them on a building site for measurement. You could build into your life a doctrine that has no nourishment, or you could built a belief system that always causes you to want to measure up to someone or something.
So let us be careful to continue to live and walk in the finished work of Jesus Christ of the cross. He came to set us free from the traditions and bondages of a performance based mentality. Remember, whom the Son has set free is free indeed.
By Pastor James Everette