Spirit & Truth # 244
“Building God’s Temple”
By Greg Smith
|Ezra lays the cornerstone of the temple.|
My church is almost at the end of a building project that began its planning stages five years ago. Our people are cramped for space. So we’re building an extension to the fellowship hall and some new Sunday school rooms. The project is scheduled to be complete by the beginning of November, and we’re all getting pretty excited. I’ve been teaching from the book of Ezra lately, and we’ve been talking about what it really means to build God’s temple.
Ezra led the Israelite exiles back to Israel, from their seventy-year captivity in Babylon. There, they began to rebuild the temple that had been destroyed in their grandparents’ day. They needed faith and dedication in order to get the project off the ground, and to see it through to completion. My church is building a physical house for God’s work, but 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV) says that “you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you.” Like the Israelites who rebuilt the temple, and like my church members who are building Sunday school rooms, you need faith and dedication as you build the temple of the Holy Spirit in your heart.
What does it mean to build God’s temple inside you? Many people think that means filling their lives with service activities like feeding the poor and clothing the naked and healing the sick and comforting the afflicted. This might build God’s kingdom on the earth, but it doesn’t build God’s temple inside you. While these things should overflow from a life dedicated to God, they are the result and not the source of God’s blessing. Building God’s temple inside you means growing your spirit. This can’t be done by hard work—it can only be done through prayer and immersing yourself in God’s word, the Bible.
Ezra 3:6 (HCSB) says that “they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, even though the foundation of the LORD's temple had not [yet] been laid.” Dedicated Christians are often very good at finding helpful things to do, in order to serve others and build God’s kingdom. This is good, but we need to follow the example of Ezra, who constructed the altar and began regular sacrifices even before he began his work on the temple. We need to maintain the altar of our spiritual life before we busy ourselves with doing good. God wants to use you to do great things—but make sure that you prepare your heart for prayer before you prepare your hands for work.
Have you been weary lately from all the good things you’ve been doing for God? Why not take some time away from the work of building God’s kingdom, and build an altar to God right where you are? Let Him renew your heart, and then you’ll have energy to do the rest.