There are two things in the Christian life that I tend to build. One is a tower. The other is a temple. The problem with towers and temples is that they don’t make Christ look great. They make me look great. Christianity is about glorifying Jesus and building his kingdom. Towers and temples don’t do that.
In Genesis 11, the people of the world came together to build a skyscraper with their names engraved on the side. Genesis 11:4 says, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a great name for ourselves.” Instead of honoring the God who made them, these men were trying to make themselves look great and glorious.
Modern day “towers” are anything that we do to try and make ourselves look better than God. It might not be a huge building with our name on the top, but it might be advancing in our company, getting a raise, buying a new car, pleasing people, or putting our hope in our kids’ little league games. I’ve been asking myself, “What towers do I build?” The list is ugly. But I trust that just as the Lord destroyed the tower of Babel, he will destroy the tower of James.
Later in 2 Samuel 7, David starts drawing blueprints for God’s temple. His motives seem pure enough to us, but the way God responds shows that there’s at least a hint of religious pride in David’s heart. God tells the prophet Nathan to say to David, “Would you build me a house to dwell in…did I speak a word with any of the judges of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’” (v. 5, 7). God continued by reminding David who he really is, “I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince of my people Israel” (v. 8). You are a dirty shepherd David. A small nothing. I did everything for you. Never forget that.
Modern day “temples” might be leading two Bible studies, giving 40% of our income, having a 2-hour quiet time, or leading a summer mission trip each year. When I ask myself, “What temples do I build?” my heart is crushed. The list is just as ugly as the towers. Again, just as God humbled David, I trust he will do the same for me.
Most things that have potential to be a tower or a temple are good things. Tim Keller said, “When good things become ultimate things, they become idols.” What towers are you building for your own kingdom? What temples are you drawing blueprints for? Jesus gives freedom and everlasting joy. Towers and temples, however, will only lead to pride or depression because they are just things, and we know that things will never satisfy.