1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIRV)
God has given me the grace to lay a foundation as a master builder. Now someone else is building on it. But each one should build carefully. No one can lay any other foundation than the one that has already been laid. That foundation is Jesus Christ. A person may build on it using gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw. But each person's work will be shown for what it is. On judgment day it will be brought to light. It will be put through fire. The fire will test how good everyone's work is. If the building doesn't burn up, God will give the builder a reward for his work. If the building burns up, the builder will lose everything. The builder will be saved, but only like one escaping through the flames.
What's the ROI of your life?
This was the title for my message last Sunday at Life at the Ridge. It was part of the series on the church based on 1 Corinthians.
In 1 Corinthians 3:10-17, the Apostle Paul writes about being a builder of God's church. He makes it clear that Jesus is the only true foundation and anyone who contributes to building the church can only build on him.
Paul is not the only builder. Every Christian builds as part of being in God's Kingdom. What do we build? What is our work? It is the work that God calls each of us to do. As Christians we each have a task or tasks. God expects us to be builders in his Kingdom. He invites us to partner with him in Kingdom construction!
All of us have a choice of how we build and what materials we use. The way we build will show by the results! What does our work look like? Is it of lasting value or only for temporary benefit? According to the Apostle Paul we can use two kinds of materials, either:
Gold, silver and precious stones.
- cost more
- take longer to prepare
- require greater skill of the craftsman
- are harder to find
Hay, wood and stubble.
- are cheap
- are readily available
- are quick to build with
- don't require much skill
What do gold, silver and precious stones represent? The Word of God, prayer, the truths of the Gospel, investing in others, and applying God's truth to our lives. We can also let God build in us with these "tools" when we allow him to redeem our lives and use our challenges, hardships and difficulties to help others who are struggling.
What do wood, hay and stublle represent? These worthless materials, include those things that are empty, useless and without eternal value such as the world's wisdom, idle speculations, and anything self-based. These materials may even include church rites, ceremonies, prejudices, and religious practices if those do not grow people into the image of Christ.
Fireproof or fire starter?
The Bible tells us that God will test each person's work by fire. In this test, gold and precious stones last. Gold and silver are refined by fire! When we build with these our work is fireproof. Whereas through the test of fire wood, hay and stublle burn up and leave only ashes. When we build with those our work makes for a great fire starter!
Those who use gold, silver and precious stones will get a reward...both in in this life and in the life to come. On earth, our reward is seeing changed lives, including our own, and seeing our pain, struggles and hardships redeemed. In heaven, we get a more glorious reward or better welcome in heaven.
Those who use wood, hay and stubble are people who (according to my friend Arlene Stevens) are in "the smoking britches" group. They will be saved but will get into heaven with their pants on fire!
What is God's ROI?
What return is God getting on his investment in our lives? He gave the most precious "thing" he "owned." He sacrificed his one and only beloved Son for us. He allowed Jesus to become human, spend time on earth and then be tortured and killed. Why? So that everyone who believes in him would have everlasting life! That's God's investment in you and me!
How is his investment paying off? Is he getting good return? Is his investment paying dividends? Are we investing by building in our own life and in others' lives using gold, silver and precious stones? OR...Are we living for ourselves and building with worthless materials that amount to nothing? Are we becoming refined as gold and silver, or will we enter heaven empty handed and with our pants on fire?
When I get to heaven my goal is to hear "well done you good and faithful servant!" That requires building with gold, silver and precious stones. Often I fail to use these materials but I strive to be a good builder. How about you? Are you building? What materials do you use? Will your work be fireproof or merely fire starter?
During Lent, let's reflect on how we've been building. Let's commit to giving God a great return on his investment!