April 4, 2006
"But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." (1 Corinthians 3:10b-15)
When I try to imagine what Heaven will be like, I guess I think of the usual things. Beauty beyond anything I've ever seen. Perfect weather. No tears, no pain, no worries. The tree of life bounteous with perfect fruit. The crystal sea. Streets paved with gold. Gates made from gems. The face of my Jesus, right there in front of me. But I also can't help to think about a time that I will stand before my Lord and His great bonfire. And it makes me think seriously about what I will have left after my personal bonfire is over.
The "Day" our scripture refers to is the judgement seat of Christ. Only believers will appear there and our works will be judged for their quality. We have been building a foundation throughout our whole life and the materials we have built with really matter. We have either built with solid and enduring materials (gold, silver, costly stones) or with perishable, passing and useless ones (wood, hay and straw). What is it that will truly endure until that "Day"? And how does that impact the way I walk out my daily life?
First of all, I know that it's not my house. It may be a nice place to live filled with nice possessions, but I won't need it in Heaven. I believe that God wants me to have a nice place to live and that He wants me to take care of what He gives me, but He does not want me to pursue my home and my possessions over the pursuit of Him. I won't need my house in Heaven because Jesus tells me in John 14 that He is preparing a mansion for me, with many rooms. I'll have a place to live full of everything I'll ever need. There will be a new Heaven and a new earth. The dwelling of God, the New Jerusalem will be with men and He will live with us. (Revelation 21: 1-3)
It is absolutely not food that will endure. When I get to Heaven I will be blessed to be invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb.(Revelation 19:9) Jesus will be my host and I will dine with Him through all of eternity. I've already sent in my R.S.V.P. My clothing doesn't matter either. When I get to Glory I will be given a white robe made of fine linen, bright and clean. (Revelation 7:9 and 19:8). I'm thinking that this is why Jesus told us in Luke 12 not to worry about food and clothing. He knew it didn't matter. He wants us to seek FIRST His Kingdom...He knows what we need and He will faithfully provide it. We are to concentrate on Kingdom things.
My job and the position in my company will be exposed in the Light and will not endure. Do a good job, with integrity and hard work, but don't bank your heavenly future on it. My bank account may have an impressive bottom line but if I have never used that money for the work of the Lord, it will have nothing to show for it. Jesus tells us not to store up for ourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. He tells us to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven, where they will last. (Matthew 6:19-20) "A man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15) Don't be like the rich fool of Luke, Chapter 12 who stored up and hoarded his crops and died that very day. No one benefited from his hoarding. He should've been "rich toward God". (Luke 12: 21)
So now that our homes, clothing, food, jobs and possessions are burning in the bonfire, what's left? People. That's what Jesus cares about...people. On that "Day" you will see the people in your life that were impacted by you. That work will not be thrown in the fire. If you notice, Jesus Himself was all about people. He didn't have a place to lay His head, He had no bank account and He would've never been known as one of the rich and famous. But He loved people. He was never too busy and never too tired to stop for a crowd or just one person who needed His touch.
You will see the husband who became a better man because of your influence and faithfulness to stay with him "for better or for worse." You will see your children who you labored in prayer over and who you brought up in the fear and admonition of the Lord. You will see friends and family who always wondered what was different about you and when they asked, you shared Jesus. Co-workers will be there because they saw Christ in you when you didn't gossip at the water fountain and when you didn't react the way others did when it got hairy at work. You faithfully and cheerfully did your job, being a living epistle. (see 2 Corinthians 3: 3) People came to know Jesus because you taught Sunday school or worked in the nursery. You gave to missions or perhaps even served in a distant country to those who never heard "The Name." You offered a sandwich or some other help to a homeless person. You visited or wrote someone in prison. You gave away clothing or other possessions that you had that weren't stained or broken. You gave your best to those who had nothing. You befriended a lonely person who just needed a listening ear. These are the solid, the enduring, the lasting things that won't be in the bonfire of Heaven.
It is our own individual responsibility to live our lives like this. And remember that you don't have to. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are saved. You will not lose your salvation. That is a gift from God (see Romans 6:23). But you will lose your reward. Even though our rewards are never spelled out, I'm sure that my loving, abundantly gracious Father will have rewards for me that will blow my mind. If what you built survives you will get your reward. I know that one reward is God's praise. 1 Corinthians 4:5 says that we will receive our praise from God. Beyond that, who knows? But I can't wait to see. If what you built burns up, you suffer loss. Again, you will be saved, but "only as one escaping through the flames." The picture here is of a man rushing through fire to safety as the building crumbles.
There is no lack of work to be done. Jesus says to you today, "open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest." (John 4: 35) But "the workers are few". (Matthew 9: 37) Let's take an honest look at our lives this week and see where we are putting all of our energies and what we are really pursuing. Are you building your life with hay, wood and straw? Or are you laying a foundation with gold, silver and precious stones that can never be burned in the big bonfire of Heaven? Life on earth lasts only a moment...eternity is forever. What's the better investment? It's up to you.