I’ve focused on two things recently as “essentials to bring to every church meeting”: we must bring our faith and we must bring our need. Neither one alone is sufficient to securing the ultimate blessing that God wants to bring to my heart in any church meeting. And I’ve been greatly blessed to practice bringing my faith and bringing my need to each gathering.
But reading the Old Testament passage about how Solomon built the Temple made me realize there’s a third thing I need to bring to every church meeting if I want the house of the Lord to be built in this new covenant age.
“Now these are the foundations which Solomon laid for building the house of God. The length in cubits, according to the old standard was sixty cubits, and the width twenty cubits. The porch which was in front of the house was as long as the width of the house, twenty cubits, and the height 120; and inside he overlaid it with pure gold. He overlaid the main room with cypress wood and overlaid it with fine gold, and ornamented it with palm trees and chains. Further, he adorned the house with precious stones; and the gold was gold from Parvaim. He also overlaid the house with gold - the beams, the thresholds and its walls and its doors; and he carved cherubim on the walls. Now he made the room of the holy of holies: its length across the width of the house was twenty cubits, and its width was twenty cubits; and he overlaid it with fine gold, amounting to 600 talents. The weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. He also overlaid the upper rooms with gold. Then he made two sculptured cherubim in the room of the holy of holies and overlaid them with gold.”
2 Chronicles 3:3-10 NASB
The New Testament says that the Old is written for our instruction, and so I know that we can derive benefit even from a passage like this. What is this picture from the Old Testament meant to teach us about how to undertake the work of building the church today? One of the phrases that appears again and again is, “He overlaid it with fine gold,” which tells me that there’s something we are meant to add to every effort we put forth in the church. The New Testament interpretation of that phrase is found in Colossians 3. Here, the Holy Spirit is detailing how to come together as a church.
“Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry.
But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him-
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
Colossians 3:5, 8-10, 12-14 NASB
That last verse shows me what all that gold in Solomon’s temple represents. All that we do in the church must be overlaid with the fine gold of LOVE. He says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 13, yet not only that; he goes a step farther, teaching that without having love, all my other effort is worthless!
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
If my work isn’t done with love, it doesn’t matter! This is an amazing passage to consider, especially at NCCF, given how much we emphasize “eagerly desiring to prophecy.” It is possible to prophecy with “all knowledge” and “all faith,” and yet accomplish nothing. That is exactly what happens if all our effort to build others up isn’t overlaid with the fine gold of love.
How much extra effort must have Solomon exerted to overlay all the work of the temple with gold, in addition to all of the work of making sure everything fit together perfectly? Painting is hard enough! But overlaying every surface with gold? I can’t even imagine how much thoughtfulness and effort that took. And that is a great example to me that, in all my effort to prepare and organize, I need to also exert the extra effort of overlaying all my sharing with love. I think the same principle applies to my listening, as well: I want to overlay my listening with love, too.
It is truly convicting to remember that, even though I’ve emphasized two good things recently — “bring your faith and bring your need” — they won’t profit unless I’m just as careful to “bring my love.” Without that, no amount of faith and need will result in a work which lasts forever. That’s why he says, “pursue love” (1 Corinthians 14:1).
And here’s a wonderful promise to fuel that pursuit:
“Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.”
1 Corinthians 13: 8-10 NASB
The Holy Spirit is saying that prophecy, tongues, and knowledge will all be done away with when Christ returns, but love won’t!!! The love that we have shown — which is an overflow of the love of God which we have partaken of ourselves — will endure forever. That cliché, “you can’t take it with you,” isn’t true when it comes to love. You CAN take it with you. Love never fails!! Whatever work is done with love will endure forever.
“If any man builds on the foundation of Christ with gold, the work which he has built will remain, and he will receive a reward.”
1 Corinthians 3:12-14 (Paraphrase)
Build with gold. Pour the precious gold of love over all your work, because love never fails. The work done without love — no matter how diligently, no matter how full of faith — is sure to be burned up. But the work which is done in love will remain forever, because it is “built with pure gold.”