A building has never changed a life. Beautiful architecture has no ability to transform a heart. Top of the line customer service cannot heal a broken spirit.
When God placed a dream in our heart to build Ebenezers Coffeehouse in the heart of Uptown Charlotte, we quickly realized that we were working on something unique. Memorable. Beautiful. Meaningful. Our desire is to bring a first-class coffeehouse and multiple-use venue to the heart of the city we love. We truly believe excellence honors God. However, as with every other area of our lives, the difference between a humble spirit and prideful heart is only a few decisions away.
I was so moved by reading Jeremiah 22 the other day. God sent a prophet (one who listens to God and speaks to man on His behalf) named Jeremiah to deliver a message to a King named Jehoiakim. This king had great wealth and a prideful spirit. He had chosen to build a magnificent palace. But this palace was not created to honor God. It was a display of temporary, human resources. This was the message, delivered by Jeremiah, that rocked my heart:
**Jeremiah 22:14-15 – “He (Jehoiakim) says, ‘I will build a magnificent palace with huge rooms and many windows. I will panel it throughout with fragrant cedar and paint it a lovely red.'” (Jeremiah’s response) “But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!“
I couldn’t get that sentence out of my mind. It ravaged my pride, my perspective and my motives. Do we want to build something beautiful? Yes. Do we want to display excellence in all that we do? Of course. Will any of that make a lasting difference apart from the grace and goodness of Jesus? No. Absolutely no.
Jeremiah continues this message by reminding Jehoiakim of his father, Josiah. This had to sting a bit. He says,
“Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?“
God cares way more about your heart and a genuine relationship with you than anything you will ever build. His desire is for you to know you and be known by you. Your heart will always be more important than your talent. The hidden beauty of your spirit will always be more attractive to Him than what you do for him.
A beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king.