July 16, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Isaiah 28:16 (NRSV)
Therefore thus says the Lord GOD,
“See, I am laying in Zion a foundation stone,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation:
‘One who trusts will not panic.’”
When we build our lives on Christ, our “precious cornerstone,” then we have a sure foundation for everything, including our daily work and leadership.
In the midst of foreseeing judgment that will come upon the Israelites for their unfaithfulness, the Lord offers a surprising word of hope. God is “laying in Zion a foundation stone” (28:16). This “tested stone” is “a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation” on which we can build without fear that our structure will come tumbling down.
Scholars differ in their interpretations of Isaiah’s original meaning for the cornerstone. From the prophet’s point of view, it might have been the temple, a Davidic king, or the city of Jerusalem. New Testament writers see in this cornerstone a prophetic pointer to Jesus (see Romans 9:33 and 1 Peter 2:5-6). Ultimately, Jesus alone is the cornerstone on which it is safe to build our lives. He alone is the one in whom we can have full confidence.
It’s common for Christians to think about building our lives on the foundation of Christ. Our families, close relationships, and private affairs are based on Jesus and the good news about him. But our public lives, including our work, are often built on something else, perhaps the values of the free market, the ethos of our company, or our personal ambitions.
These things are not necessarily wrong, but they are inadequate if we want to build that which will last, whether it is our faith, our family, or our even business. As Hudson Taylor, the nineteenth-century missionary once said, “Christ is either Lord of all, or is not Lord at all.” Similarly, the Dutch statesman and theologian, Abraham Kuyper, said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” Thus, as we read Isaiah 28 in light of Christ, we are encouraged to make him the sure foundation for all that we build in this life.
On what or on whom are you building your life, really?
What other “cornerstones” compete for your ultimate trust, besides Jesus?
What would it mean for you to build your life on Jesus?
What would it mean for Jesus to be the foundation of your work?
Talk with a wise friend or your small group about how you can build your life on the cornerstone of Christ.
Gracious God, I acknowledge that you are the true cornerstone, the one on whom I can build a solid, lasting, purposeful life. I know, in my head at least, that if I build upon you, I won’t be let down.
But I must confess that I am tempted to choose other cornerstones in addition to you. I want to build my life on the foundation of rationality, family, success, hard work, or my ability to control my life. It’s not that I don’t want you to be one cornerstone of my life. But I find it easy to hedge my bets and to have several cornerstones.
Forgive me, Lord, for how easily I displace you. Forgive me for my failure to rely fully on you. Help me to put my full trust in you. May I build my life with you as my cornerstone. May every part of my life – work, family, friendships, play, service, worship – be founded on you. Be sovereign over every square inch of my life! Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project’s online commentary. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Life, Knowledge, and Wisdom (Isaiah 28ff.).
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.