Chapter 3:12-15 (ESV) - Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
Question to consider: What does Paul mean when he says what we build will be revealed by fire?
The foundation of our faith, Paul informed us yesterday, is Christ, and the Corinthians were adding to this foundation with fleshly notions like someone’s worth as a Christian being tied to the one who brought them to faith. As Christians, we divide our pursuits into the temporal and the eternal. Temporal pursuits are things like our careers and material possessions. Eternal pursuits are things that we do which strengthen our faith or the faith of others, for after we die, our inheritance is Christ and His church.
Paul’s illustration in today’s passage demonstrates the futility of temporal pursuits, for they will simply burn up on the day of judgment. I’m not saying we shouldn’t pursue lucrative careers or desire to provide good things for our families, but we should consider how much time we invest in things that have no eternal value and the manner in which we pursue them. Ministries that preach that Christ has a personal plan of prosperity for each Christian are ministries of straw and are not worthy of consideration. Paul himself faced persecution and poverty throughout his entire life as a Christian which ended with his death by Nero in Rome. If God's plan is for us to live our best life now, Paul must have missed that memo.
People will often use this text as a prooftext for a system of rewards in heaven, but I think this puts the emPHAsis on the wrong syllAble. Our life as a Christian is lived to the glory of Christ with grateful hearts for what He has done for us. We don’t serve out of a desire for some personal gain in heaven but out of a sense of urgency to reach those who do not have Christ as their foundation.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for Your mercy. Please give us a deep desire to lay a foundation in Christ for those who do not know You and to encourage those who do with a desire for things of eternal value. Amen.