I read a story of a carpenter who told his boss he was ready to retire and spend time with his wife and family. His boss was saddened because this man had been a good, reliable employee for many years. He asked the carpenter if he would do him a favor and build one more house.
The carpenter reluctantly agreed, even though his passion for building had waned. While building this last house, his usual work ethic faded, and his efforts were mediocre. He used inexpensive and inferior materials and cut corners wherever he could. It was a poor way to finish a dedicated career that he’d excelled in.
When the carpenter was finished, his boss came to look at the house. He gave the key to the carpenter and said, “This house is my gift to you for all the hard work you have done for me through the years.”
The man was astonished. What a generous gift his boss gave. If he had known he was building a house for himself, he would have made his usual efforts to create a high-quality home. By failing to put forth his best, he would now live in an inferior house.
We’ve lived in our current home for almost eighteen years. We love it as much today as the day we moved in. Although it was on the market, I’ve heard the builder built it thinking he might live in it himself. I don’t know if its construction is superior to the other houses he built, but it does have features not usually found in a spec house. It’s evident the builder poured his heart and soul into this house—a house he would never live in.
In the book of Haggai, the prophet spoke to Zerubbabel, the son of the governor of Judah, and to Joshua, the son of the high priest. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord”(Haggai1:8 NIV).
Haggai instructed God’s people to be less concerned with their houses and focus on building the Lord’s house. Not only were they to build His house with the best timber, they were to carefully consider how they built it. They were to work with the right spirit and a heart that wanted to please and glorify God.
Scripture states that the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the remnant of Israel, and they were obedient to build a house that honored and pleased the Lord.
How about us? Are we more concerned with building a physical house that serves and brings glory to ourselves than building a spiritual house that pleases and brings honor and glory to God?
Houses are more than brick and mortar. They are our families, businesses, reputations, and the Church—God’s kingdom here on earth. We must be careful how we build these spiritual houses. The houses we build today will be the homes we live in tomorrow. As you build, confer with the Master Builder, invest your best, and desire God’s glory and pleasure above your own.
“You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ Jesus. –1 Peter 2:5 ESV
** This article was first published in The Randolph Hub, June 21, 2023