For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:11
In the late 1990s, our ministry set out to construct a large church building for our congregation in Riga, Latvia. One of the most important steps in this complex process was creating a foundation that could support the church building, and since the planned structure was massive, the foundation would have to be immense. This also meant it would be very expensive!
The land that our ministry had purchased for this church building was ideal in terms of its location, but the ground itself was composed of peat moss! Peat moss is a beautiful, rich, dark soil, but structurally, it is very unsound. In fact, if we had built on top of it, our building would have sunk down into the soil! So before we could start building our foundation, bulldozers had to come and remove that rich, dark soil.
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
Day after day, I watched as the crew dug deeper and deeper, trying to find hard ground beneath all that peat moss — until at long last they found hard soil 12 feet deep in the earth! When it was all said and done, 12 feet of peat moss had to be removed from an area the size of a football field. Every day I went to the site to watch as dump trucks loaded with rich, dark peat moss drove away to dump that soil into the river!
When the huge depression for the foundation was finally dug, I climbed down into it and walked from one end to the other. I was so proud of that big hole in the ground! It alone had cost more money than any other project I had ever taken on in my life. However, once the soil was excavated, it was then time to fill the hole with copious amounts of sand and gravel so the concrete foundation could be poured.
Over the course of the next few months, the same dump trucks that had previously carried soil away returned to pour layers upon layers of sand and gravel into that big, expensive hole. Before long, that hole was history! By the time the hole was refilled with rock and sand, our church building had already cost a fortune!
The next step was to build the foundation for our church building. The workers built a wood frame around the perimeter of the building site and then laid steel to reinforce the concrete once it was poured. Once the frame was secure, the concrete trucks arrived and began pouring concrete. That was such an exciting day!
For weeks cement trucks churned sand, water, and cement into concrete, and the workers poured it onto the site. Because there wasn’t a lot of sophisticated construction equipment in the former USSR at that time, everything had to be done by hand. The newly poured concrete had to be carefully smoothed by hand before it dried, and the laborers worked quickly and efficiently to complete each new section before moving on to the next. Everyone involved worked meticulously with an observant eye to ensure no mistakes were made in this important process.
Finally, the day came when all the trucks left, and I could examine our new foundation. At 306 feet long and 108 feet wide, that slab was huge! In fact, it was so big that it took several minutes for me to walk from one end to the other! Soon after, the crew arrived with their noisy grinding machines and literally ground the surface of that foundation until it was nearly as smooth as silk. Then it was time for the next phase — the construction of the building’s steel frame!
However, before they put that steel frame in place, I would drive out to the site early each morning, walk around the foundation, and look at it in wonder. I would think about how it began as an abandoned field of peat moss, and then through a lengthy, elaborate, expensive process, it became our rock-solid foundation.
I loved that foundation! When we started to build it, our ministry didn’t have the money needed to complete it. Day by day, I prayed and believed God for the money to dig that hole, buy the sand and rock, and purchase and pour the concrete. No one appreciated that foundation as much as I did because no one else knew what a miracle it was that we had been able to pay for it. That foundation had been built by faith. It was my miracle foundation!
When the church building was completed, it almost broke my heart when the carpet was laid over that foundation! So much work had gone into building that foundation, and the carpet would completely hide it. In fact, no one would ever even think of the foundation as they walked over it. Everyone who came into that building to worship God would never realize the fortune of sand, rock, and concrete that was beneath their feet, yet it was there whether or not they realized it. Although that foundation was no longer visible to anyone’s sight, it was essential to keeping that building standing strong for many years to come.
Think about it — how often do you walk into a gorgeous building and say, “Wow, what an awesome foundation this building has!” NEVER! When you walk into a new building, you see carpet, tile, wallpaper, light fixtures, and other beautiful cosmetic work, but you don’t see the foundation. You probably don’t even think about the foundation! However, if the foundation isn’t properly put in place, that building won’t last very long. The longevity of the whole building depends on the foundation.
Building a foundation is a hard, elaborate, lengthy, expensive process, but it is extremely important. In First Corinthians 3:11, the apostle Paul wrote about the spiritual foundation he had laid in the church of Corinth. He said, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
The word “foundation” that Paul used in this verse is the Greek word themelios, a compound of the words lithos and tithemi. The word lithos is Greek for stone, and tithemi means to lay something down. When these words are compounded, they form the word themelios, which describes a foundation set in stone that is strong, stable, and enduring.
In addition to describing a physical foundation, the word themelios was also used metaphorically to denote the laying of a moral, theological, or educational foundation in a person’s life. These figurative foundations, just like an actual physical foundation of a building, are all built with enormous effort, intense concentration, and great expense.
When the apostle Paul first entered Corinth, the city was utterly consumed with idolatry and heathenism. In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that Corinth was one of the most wicked, perverted cities on the face of the earth at that time. Therefore, for Paul to establish a church in that evil environment, he had to push like a spiritual bulldozer in the Spirit to shove those demonic powers out of the way. Once the spiritual rubbish had been cleared from his path, he then preached the Word in order to establish a firm foundation under the feet of these newly saved Corinthians. Paul’s enormous effort and intense focus produced a foundation under them that would withstand any attack of the enemy — including horrific persecution — and would last for generations!
Whenever Paul left a congregation to establish a church in a new region, a new pastor would follow in his stead to build on top of his work. However, every spiritual foundation that the apostle set beneath a church was rock-solid and needed no improvements. That is why he confidently stated to the Corinthians, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Because of Paul’s hard work, the church in Corinth was set on a firm spiritual foundation that enabled it to become one of the most influential congregations of the Early Church. Although other spiritual leaders followed Paul and contributed their part, a large part of the fruit produced in the Corinthian church can be directly attributed to the talents, energy, and gifts Paul used to establish the foundation for that congregation.
With this in mind, first take a moment to evaluate your own spiritual foundation with the help of the Holy Spirit. Are there any gaps that need to be filled in? Are there “swampy” areas in your mindsets and beliefs that need to be dug out and filled in with solid, Word-based soil? Ask the Lord for wisdom, and the Spirit of God will be faithful to give you all that you need to make sure your foundation is deep, wide, and bedrock-solid so you can build your life high and wide and strong in Him!
Then as you reflect on your life, see if you can think of a person or people who helped build a godly foundation in your life, such as a family member, a friend, a teacher, or a pastor. At the time these individuals were pouring themselves into your life, you might not have even realized the significance of their actions. However, as you look back on all they did, aren’t you grateful for the time and energy they invested in you in order to build a firm foundation in your life?
When I think back on all the people Denise and I have poured ourselves into over the years, it makes me realize how much it means to us when they come back to say thank you for what we did for them. Those expressions of thanks mean so much! Although it is not demanded or expected, it is a wonderful reward to hear that we have touched people’s lives and that our actions helped them get established on a firm foundation.
Have you taken time to thank people for the sacrifices they made to do this very thing for you? For those who invested themselves in you, I recommend that you take time to do something special to express your heartfelt thanksgiving for how they helped you in a pivotal moment of your life.
Never forget that the longevity of a building greatly depends on the foundation. Although laying a spiritual foundation is a hard, elaborate, lengthy process that can come at great cost, it is nevertheless extremely important. If a godly foundation is laid correctly, a person’s life will be well supported, and he will be able to pass the test of time. On the other hand, if a foundation under a person’s life is built too hastily or on shifting soil, that person will not have a firm footing as he proceeds forward in his spiritual walk.
As a closing thought, I encourage you to remember Jesus’ exhortation: “Freely ye have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:8). This means that you should actively seek to build up the spiritual foundation of other people, just as others took the time to help strengthen your foundation. Do everything you can to help build strong foundations in the lives of those around you, even as you ensure that your own foundation is built strong and sure to hold the full weight of all that God has destined you to be!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I want to thank You for loving me so much that You placed people in my life to help build a solid foundation underneath me. Because of what they invested in me, my life is set on a firm foundation. I am so thankful for everything that was graciously done on my behalf! Please help me fortify my own foundation in every area that might need shoring up or strengthening. And I ask that You open my eyes to people around me who need the same kindness and care shown to them. Your Word says “freely ye have received, freely give,” so I know I have a responsibility to give of myself as others gave to me. I want to be a positive influence in someone else’s life, so I ask You, Holy Spirit, to show me how to be the same kind of blessing that others have been to me.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I have a strong foundation in God, firmly based on the truth of His Word. And I allow Him to use me to positively influence other people’s lives. I have gifts, talents, abilities, and experience that will help put others on a firm foundation for life. Rather than keep those gifts, talents, abilities and life experiences to myself, I allow God to use these to help other people get started on a firm foundation. Because I allow the Holy Spirit to use me, I am a great blessing to people who are around me. God works through me, and other people’s lives are benefited because I am willing to invest myself in them and in their future.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Who helped establish a foundation underneath your life? As you look back on your life and recall all that those individuals did to help you in your life and career, are you deeply thankful for their great investment of time and energy to ensure that your life or career was established on a firm foundation?
- Have you taken time to thank those people for the sacrifices they made for you? I recommend that you take a few minutes today to write them, to call them, or to do something special to express a heartfelt thanksgiving for what they invested in you at a pivotal moment in life!
- Who are you investing yourself in today? If God cared enough for you to send a person into your life that would help you get a firm footing in life, then don’t you think it is right that you should do this for someone else? Who are you helping in life?