In our culture of self-promotion, it has become difficult to determine how to rightly glorify (or publicize) the life and ongoing work of Jesus in our lives. Here’s what the apostle Paul said about our part in building a spiritual legacy that pleases God:
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 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.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15 ESV
This passage is sobering. Like Paul, we rightly want to see as many people enter the Kingdom of God as possible. But, like the Corinthians, we might be tempted to think that reducing entry into the kingdom to a brief “sinners prayer”, then hastily lowering the bar for obedience with such phrases as “we are all broken people”, will build his Kingdom at warp speed.
Paul indicates that “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.” This paints a picture of the test each of us will face regarding our approach to obedience. The building materials “gold, silver, precious stones” indicate the quality God is aiming for as he gives us materials to build his Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The term “the Day” refers to God’s end-time judgment of the work we do in this life.
If we adopt a cavalier attitude toward obedience to God’s word and his ways, and teach others to do the same, we will still enjoy an eternity with God, but will not have the heavenly rewards he wants us to have. Paul doesn’t elaborate on those rewards, but indicates we don’t want to miss them. He also emphasizes a fire ceremony is reserved for flammable works of “wood, hay, straw” – likely, sinful or useless/marginal attitudes and behaviors that some of the Corinthian believers were permitting in their lives.
Take another look at the classic children’s story of The Three Little Pigs and think about what kind of building materials are available to you and how God wants you to use them.