August 31

Chiseling Out of Sight and Earshot

I Kings 6:7 And the temple, when it was being built, was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built.

I Peter 2:4-5 Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

In the middle of the description of the building of Solomon’s Temple—the various parts of the Temple, its construction materials, and its size—is the almost obscure passage about where the hammering and chiseling was done. It was done a distance away, out of sight and out of earshot. When the various finished pieces were brought into the Temple area, they could be laid down relatively easily and quietly. It would be as if they almost appeared from nowhere, ready to be perfectly placed.

Much ink has been spilled about the need for quiet in building the Temple (that is, His church and body), and many words have been written about how God’s work must be done in a quiet spirit, without contention or attention grabbing. All that is true, and there is a great deal to meditate and read on the subject. But attention must be paid to the actual hammering and chiseling as well.

You and I have been hammered and chiseled by God, and much of it has produced noise—the pain, the resistance, the shouting. The process is loud, of course, and often irritating. In His wisdom, God has chosen to do a great deal of that work away from the Temple.

If we are to be fitted together with others in worship and ministry (i.e., in the Temple), we have to have a good deal of chiseling and hammering done. It may well be that a great deal of it has to be done, and God may well choose to lower the noise level of ministry and worship by waiting until our rough edges are gone and stony areas hammered into tenderness—all at a distance from the ministry itself.

You may be right that God is calling you into areas of service and ministry beyond what you are doing now. (Of course, serving in any kind of ministry has its own set of challenges that help purify us, and all group activities have their challenges individually.) But perhaps the Lord is doing the more painful work needed in our hearts and minds away from the crowd, in a way that won’t negatively impact our brothers and sisters and His work. We still will need to stay in relationship and community during the process, but we can all rejoice that the noise of the hammering and the clank of the chiseling often occur away from the eyes and ears of others. It’s better for us; it’s better for others.

If you’re being hammered and chiseled right now, perhaps God is simply preparing you for proper placement in His body, the Temple of the Holy Spirit. He knows what He’s doing, and knows when He’s done. Let’s let Him complete the noisy work in us, and then watch how He places us in place, all perfectly formed by Him for His purposes.

Prayer: Father, thank You that the pain of growth is often done in the shadows, where others don’t have to watch and listen. Thank You, too, that You hammer and chisel for Your own good reasons and purposes. Thank You that Your work in me is all about better placement in the Body.