American Mansions and Sanctification

Last week, we visited one of America’s great houses. While the size of these homes is impressive, what I really love about them is the combination of skill and creativity not bound by limited resources. It results in incredible beauty.

We love going through these houses and marveling at how men have taken raw materials from creation, used their gifts to cut, carve, shape and paint, and make something that brings delight: a porch with intricate stone work framing a lovely view; a Durer etching in exactly the right alcove; cut glass that takes sunlight and turns it into thousands of rainbows on a tile floor.

But how often do I take the time to delight in the Lord’s work in the souls of His people? When do I see the Creator’s handiwork in the life of a saint and wonder? Does evidence of sanctification in another believer cause me to marvel as much as Chippendale furniture does? Do marks of grace in a fellow church member impress me the same way that intricate wood paneling does? Do I want to point out growth in holiness to others like I want to point out a Reynolds to another tourist?

It is spiritual dullness that makes me slow to be impressed by God’s handiwork in His people. He knows that we are slow to see His sanctifying soul-work, which is why the Psalmist instructs us to “Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts”. While the great houses of this earth are lovely to visit and examples of God’s gifts to men, it is “the city of the great King” that will be “the joy of all the earth” (Ps. 48). While the craftsmanship in these buildings is impressive, it is the saints in the land, the excellent ones, in whom our delight is to be (Ps. 16:2).

While the mansions are fun to tour, they are crumbling: stairs are worn down by millions of footsteps; tapestries fade even in gentle light; leading in stained glass needs to be replaced. But the work that God is doing in His people will last for eternity – long after America’s mansions are forgotten.