If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved — even though only as one escaping through the flames.1 Corinthians 3:14-15
In 2 Corinthians, Paul says,
We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10), and in John's book of Revelation he describes the Lord before whom we appear. John says,
His eyes are like a flame of fire, (Revelation 1:14). Those flaming, searching eyes are going to examine all our Christian lives, what they have been made of, what we are building with. Paul says in 2 Corinthians,
Then we shall receive the things done in the body whether they be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10) — the same two categories — whether they are built on the revelation of the mind and Spirit of God, gold, silver and precious stones, or whether they reflect the current philosophies of the spirit of the age around us.
What are we building with? One or the other. If it is good it will endure; it will stand the test, and we will be given a reward. What is the reward? There are a lot of guesses as to what this is because the Scriptures do not tell us flat out, but I think there are hints that indicate what it is. When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians he said,
Are you not our crown of rejoicing? (1 Thessalonians 2:19 KJV). I think the reward is simply joy, joy over having spent your life in a way that counts.
Did you ever watch a winning team at the end of a game? Do you notice what they do? They go crazy! Grown men jump on each other's backs; they pound one another, and hug one another, and even kiss one another. Why? They are filled with joy because the efforts they put forth produced results and it was satisfying to them. That was their reward. Did you ever watch the losing team? There is no jumping around and slapping one another on the back. Sadness and gloom prevail; they are ashamed because all their efforts were to no avail. It was all wasted effort. All of us shall have some of both in our lives. There is nobody who is a Christian who will not have some degree of gold, silver and precious stones because God guarantees it by having come into our lives as Christians. But there can also be a lot of wood, hay and stubble too, built upon the philosophy of the flesh instead of the Spirit.
What is your life going to count for? Every one of us is investing his life in something. You cannot live without making an investment. What is it in? Will it stand the test? In the great day when all the universe sees things the way they are, will you be filled with joy that your life was invested in what stood the test and contributed to the glory of the Lord himself? Or will you be ashamed that you wasted all these years making an impression on people, but it was all burned up in the fire? I know there are people who do not like this kind of preaching. They say we ought to all preach the grace of God, but the Scriptures teach us that we have some choice in this matter. Are our lives going to be lived on the basis of gold, silver and precious stones, growing out of that revelation of God by the Spirit, or are they going to reflect the empty, vain philosophies of the world around so that we live only for pleasure, fame and power?
Lord, I know that these words are not sent to condemn me, but to encourage me to choose the right path and to invest my life in ways that will fulfill the promise that you have given me. Help me to manifest this increasingly as I go on day by day, guided and guarded by your Spirit.
Are we going for the gold, following the wisdom of our Master Architect's plan and purpose? When crunch time comes, will our life assessment bring honor to Him, and resulting joy to us, His building?