Build Lasting Work

Most of us cringe when we hear the word discipline. It sounds painful and uncomfortable. We tend to equate discipline with punishment. But what about spiritual discipline—is it about being punished and living a sparse, austere, meager life? Too often that is exactly what we think of when we think of living a spiritually disciplined life. The reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. To live a spiritually disciplined life is to live a life full of joy and abundance.

Obviously this is a well-kept secret or the world would be jumping on board to live a life full of love and beauty. There are many lies circulating regarding a life spent seeking wisdom about God and having an in-dwelling Christ. There are arguments that one must work their way to Heaven through deprivation and effort—only entering the pearly gates when one has reached perfection. And then there is the other argument that one only believe and sit back and wait for God to give us a better world.

The Apostle Paul describes a middle road that helps me to understand the role of spiritual disciplines in my life. In the book of 1 Corinthians he uses the analogy of being a part of God’s building—we are His creation. He talks about his work in the early Christian church of laying a foundation on the ministry of Christ. He then compares each person’s ability to construct and create their building (life) on that foundation and they are free to use any material they want, from the cheapest (straw) to the most expensive (gold). Then the test of time and trial will show the value of their building. Fire (time and trial) will show the quality of what they have built. If what they have built with their life survives the fire, there will be a reward. If it burns up (has no lasting effect), the person will escape with their life, but they will have nothing to show for their work.

This is a revealing Gnostic wisdom principle. We reap what we sow. My salvation does not depend on what materials I choose to build my life with, that is the foundation of Christ’s work and life that was done for me (grace). But I can choose to build my life with little effort and attention to personal growth and ministry or I can choose to create or manifest something of true value and worth that will last for eternity. The rewards are the natural result of something finely built or of something poorly built.

Christ explained the same principle in the story of the man who built his house on sand or who built it on a rock. Another way to look at this is the law of karma. What we do generates results either for good or for evil. Time and trial (experience) reveal what materials we have built with and on what type of foundation.

The materials we build spiritual disciplines with are time spent pursuing a personal relationship with God (Gnosis). This includes time spent daily in reading, prayer, meditation, and personal service to others. It is about a life that is open to the impressions of Spirit and is willing and even eager to submit one’s ego to a higher calling. In reality it is joining into relationship with God to be a lightworker in the world.

This path is optional. One is not required to devote their life to a close walk with God. God still loves us. But given the amazing benefits of growth and a life of abundance why not build with gold instead of straw? The only thing we give up when we devote ourselves whole-heartedly to God’s service is a life of scarcity. Not a bad trade. Building with gold is more than worth the cost of time and energy spent given the value of its enduring qualities. The rewards are seeing other people blessed by sharing God's love with them and encouraging them along the path not to mention the incredible joy of knowing God personally. The good news is that anyone can afford to build with gold in God's kingdom--so why choose straw? Go ahead--go for the gold!