There is a story that has been around for a long while. I don't know where it's from. A long time ago, there was a carpenter, a master carpenter. He went into the house-building business, and he built great houses.
After many years of working for the same employer, he decided he was kind of tired. He wanted out of his contract, and he wanted to retire. His boss said, Okay, but there's one more house on the contract.
It was on a beautiful lot with a magnificent view, and the boss wants it to be a dream house and insists that the master carpenter build it. The carpenter agreed. He needed the money to build a little cottage for his retirement, but his heart was not in it. He resented having to do the work, so he cut corners. He got sloppy. He substituted particle board for good wood. He used plastic pipes where copper pipes were called for. Walls got put up that were not plumb. He did things that would make Chip and Joanna Gaines, from the show Robin watches, not me, called Fixer Upper, get sick to their stomachs.
When he finished, his boss shook his hand and thanked him for the many years of their work together. Then, his boss handed him an envelope, and when he opened it, he found out to his shock it contained the deed to the house he had just built. He did not know the house he had been building with so much resentment and such a grudging spirit and so much dishonesty was the place where he would have to spend the rest of his years.
Day after day he had been given the opportunity to create something unique and magnificent. He could have done that, and he threw away the chance of a lifetime, and he did not even know. This all happened in a long-ago time in a faraway place.
1 Corinthians 3:9-17
For we are co-workers in God's service; you are God's field, God' s building. By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.
It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person's work. If that has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God' s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God' s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
Now, Paul's primary concern here is about the church. We together are the church, the place where God's Spirit dwells, but, of course, the church is made of people, so this involves every one of us and our lives. Everybody is constructing a life. Paul makes this amazing statement. You are God's building. You.
In this passage, it's almost like God is house hunting and he wants to move from up there to down here, and oddly enough, his dream house is you. Of course, we're not fit to be God's dream house yet. You are a fixer upper, and so am I. We are under construction. You'll choose the materials that will be used to build your life. You will do this. Not your circumstances, but you.