Lately I watched as doves wandered around the grass in our yard. One in particular was doing more than just meandering—she was definitely on a mission and her actions spoke volumes. Picking up small twigs and sticks, she seemed to weigh them in her beak and then, through a process known only to her, toss them aside or quickly get airborne with her selected cargo. Later in the day I saw others repeating the process across the street. I know that somewhere a new housing tract of dove homes is being constructed. The dove I was watching was busy about her business and I hope the plans in her head resulted in the nest she needed for her family. 

God’s Word has much to say about how we “build” our lives and Matthew 6:24-27 is one of the go-to passages for the plans. Jesus reminds us that when we listen to His words and respond in obedience, we will be like a wise man who builds his house upon a strong foundation. If you were in church as a child, chances are you sang the song of the wise man building on the rock. The foolish man chose sand for his foundation—easier, but an absolute disaster when the rains came.

If you’re in doubt as to what this strong foundation is referring to, Paul speaks of Christ as the sole foundation upon which we should build. I Corinthians 3:11 states that “no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Having watched a few programs on the Home and Garden channel, I understand the importance of a strong foundation. It’s the same in our lives. Our first concern is to be sure we have the right foundation, belief in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. But the foundation is just the beginning when constructing a solid home.

The Corinthian believers already had this strong foundation, but Paul urged them to be careful about how they built on it. Because we know that our salvation is a gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), this construction project is how we serve God. It’s what we do, not to earn salvation, but by living in obedience to God and allowing the Holy Spirit to accomplish His work through us. Continuing his analogy of building on a strong foundation, Paul offers the following choices of materials: gold, silver, precious stones and wood, hay and stubble. The dove was selective as she searched for her building material. As believers we also need to be careful, making sure our motives, attitudes and relationship to God are right.

In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul explains that every believer will one day appear before the Lord for a review of the work they have done. In 1 Corinthians 3:13-15 believers are told it’s a test by fire and the quality of each man’s work will be revealed. What we do for God, no matter how well-intentioned, will not stand the test if our plans don’t have God’s stamp of approval and our lives are not pleasing to Him. There’ll be no reward for work of wood, hay and stubble, but praise God, our salvation is secure because we have the firm foundation of faith in Christ.

The dove I watched had an instinctive check list of what she needed. Believers need one as well—a strong foundation and service that will endure for all eternity. If the plans in your heart result in “building” a life pleasing to the Lord your rewards will be great.