But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
I. THE FIRST THING IS TO SECURE A SOLID FOUNDATION. That foundation is not to be created; it is already provided — Christ Jesus. All else than this is crumbling clay or shifting sand. Shallow conversions make shallow Christians. I trust that you have dug deep, and laid your foundations well. The Eddystone lighthouse is not only built on a rock, it is built with iron bolts and clamps into the rock. So you must be built into Christ by a living union of your weakness to His strength, your ignorance to His omniscience, your poverty to His wealth of grace, your sinfulness to His perfect righteousness. The best part of a true Christian is the unseen part, as the vital part of a tree is its root. So the innermost graces that lie, as it were, in the very depths of a Christian soul next to Christ are the most precious and powerful and enduring portion of the man.
II. BUT A BUILDING IS NOT DONE WHEN THE FOUNDATION IS LAID. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit is only the initial process, and then comes the command to build up yourselves on our most holy faith. God's quarry is rich in materials. It would be a good thing for our Churches if solid granite were in greater demand. Flashing marble is very ornamental for lintels and capitals. But in these times we need more firm granite of honesty, courage, truthfulness, and self-denial. Every now and then a Church is disfigured by an ugly crack or rent in its walls from the fact that a bit of friable pumice-stone was put in there in the shape of a swindling or frivolous professor. What is true of a Church as God's building is equally true of individual character; nothing should go into a Christian's character except what is taken from God's quarry.
III. SOME CHRISTIANS ARE NOT BUILT UP SYMMETRICALLY. They are lopsided, and their painful deficiency is on the ethical side of their religion. They can sing in a prayer-meeting, and pray devoutly, and exhort fluently; but outside of the meeting they cannot always be trusted. What they lack is a rigid sense of right and a constant adherence to it. They need more conscience, a conscience to detect sin, and a granite-like principle to resist its seductions. The word of these Christians is not always to be relied on; in matters of business they do not always go by the air-line. Every wise builder makes constant use of his plumb-line. All the showy ornamentation that he can put on his edifice amounts to nothing if the wails are not perpendicular. Sometimes we see a flimsy structure whose bulging walls are shored up by props and skids to keep them from tumbling into the street. I am afraid that there are thousands of reputations in commerce, in politics, and even in the Church, that are shored up by various devices. It is a mere question of time how soon every character will fall in if it is not based on the rock and built according to Jesus Christ's plumb-line. It may go down in this world: it is sure to go down in the next. We ought to lay the plumb-line up against all our religious acts and services, even against our prayers. If failing to use the Divine plumb-line in character building is a great mistake, it is another mistake that the little everyday actions are made of small account. You could hardly make a worse blunder. Christian influence mainly depends on what you may regard as little things. It is the aggregate of a good man's or good woman's life that tells for the honour of our Lord and Saviour. It is by adding the brick of courage to the brick of faith, and to this the brick of temperance and the brick of patience, and the brick of brotherly love and the brick of honesty and of benevolence, that a noble Christian character is reared. Nothing is of small account that involves your influence in a sharp-eyed world. Other people's eyes are upon you as well as your Master's eyes. The Athenian architects of the Parthenon finished the upper side of the matchless frieze as perfectly as the lower side, because the goddess Minerva saw that side. Every one of the five thousand statues in the cathedral of Milan is wrought as if God's eye were on the sculptor. Michael Angelo said that he "carved for eternity." Every true Christian is a habitation of God through His Spirit. Young friends, build for eternity. And let every one take heed how he buildeth; for the Architect-in-Chief will inspect each one's work on the great day of judgment.
(T. L. Cuyler, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,