I Corinthians 3:10-16
“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.
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.”
Every single thing we do on this earth comes down to THIS moment. And God is so good that He gives us this little glimpse so we will know what to expect and so we can be encouraged in how to live. It all comes down to this question….Are your works gold, silver and precious stones? Or are they wood, hay and stubble? When I was studying for the Ladies’ Retreat, back in April, the Lord brought me to this scripture and He burned a vision of it in my mind. I could see myself, standing beside Jesus. Pause. Just breathe in that thought for a second. That’s really the best part of the entire story. I was standing beside Jesus. Think for a minute about how that will feel. Of course, in our feeble little human minds, we can not even begin to understand it, but we can try. So, close your eyes and imagine how you will feel when you see Him. Imagine yourself standing beside Him.
Now, as you stand there with him, His angels come behind you and pick up your bag of works. Yes, you actually get to bring something with you to heaven. Not your car, your money, your kids, your jewelry, your trophies or your house. You get to bring your works. All the things you did while you were here on the earth. As Paul says above, if you have done anything to build upon the foundation he laid, which was Jesus, you will get to bring that work with you. So, now imagine standing there with Jesus, and the angels take your bag of works and they pour them out onto something that looks like a pizza oven. The conveyer belt starts up and your works are moving closer and closer to the fire. Your heart is pounding a little because you are standing with Jesus and He is watching intently to see what happens. They inch closer and closer to the fire, and you know what is about to happen. You know that the works you did through the flesh are going to burn up and only the works you did in the Spirit are going to come out of that fire. You remember that I Corinthians 1: 27-31 says,
“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
You knew as soon as you laid eyes on Jesus that there was no place for pride here in heaven. All you could do was bow before Him and say, “Jesus, it’s all because of You that I am here. I did nothing and you did everything.” So, there in no pride. You know that you did nothing to deserve any praise. But, you are standing there with great anticipation, praying and hoping that something you did while you were here on this earth was truly of God so that something is going to come out on the other side of that fire. Why do you care? Because if your works survive, you will receive a reward – a crown. So, why do you care about having a crown? I’ll tell you in a minute. But, for now, let’s get back to the conveyer belt.
You are standing there with Jesus. Your works have just gone into the fire and you are waiting for them to come out so you can see if you had any gold, silver or precious stones. Now, you have to finish your own story. I can’t write it for you. What does it look like? Ask the Lord to help you see. Be careful with this, though. The Bible says that your heart can deceive you. That means that you can be doing works in the flesh, but you think they are in the Spirit. Be very careful with this. This is why we need to constantly be reading the Word and be in prayer, which is conversation with the Holy Spirit. This is why we have to live an open, honest life with the Lord. Don’t try to hide anything. He sees it all, anyway. Ask Him to show you the truth. God, are my works in the Spirit, or are they in the flesh? Tell Him from an honest heart how much you want to please Him and, I promise, He will show you and He will help you.
One of the most famous passages of scripture, I Corinthians 13, proves that it is completely possible for us to do great things on this earth, but not receive rewards for them. Read it. I know you’ve heard it many times before, but read it again and let the Lord speak to you. People actually laid down their lives, but didn’t have LOVE. What? How do you lay down your life for someone without love? I think this is possible because of self righteousness and pride. Man’s pride is so big that I believe a person could lay down their life so that others would think they are great. Isn’t that gross? Doesn’t that just give you a glimpse into our hearts. We all deal with it. Pride is at the root of almost every sin. Pride can fool us into thinking we are right with God, when we are not. Pray against pride in your life. When the Lord really spoke to me through I Corinthians 1: 29, I saw how much pride I had and I saw, through His Word, that my flesh can NOT glory in His presence. So, my pride has to die. I have to understand that I can not make it to heaven on my own. I can’t work my way there. I can’t do enough to get there. And, it does not matter what you think about me, or what I think about you. It does not matter how much you are impressed with me, or I with you. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is Jesus. He gets all the glory.
Let’s just say that your works made it through the fire and you have a crown for your reward. Are you excited about your beautiful crown because now you get to wear it around heaven for eternity and let everyone see what a spiritual giant you were on earth? Is it so you can parade around showing people how great your works on earth were? NO! Of course not. Look at Revelation 4:10-11,
“And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty- four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
‘Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.'”
The elders throw their crowns at Jesus’ feet. Of course, that is what we are going to want to do. When that moment of huge anticipation comes to an end and we see that we actually have a crown because some of our works made it out of the fire as gold, silver and precious jewels, we are going to know with every fiber of our glorified body, that it is only because of Jesus that they made it. So, of course, we are going to want to throw that crown at His feet. It is His crown. He earned it. All we did was come to Him as a wretched sinner and a lost person who had nothing to give Him, and He did everything else. And, just imagine how much you are going to want to worship Him when you see Him and the veil is lifted off your eyes so you can fully understand all that He is and all that He has done. You are just going to want to explode with excitement and worship. You are going to want to have a Mac truck filled with crowns that you can lay at Jesus’ feet. That’s all you are going to want to do is worship Him. But, what if you don’t have a crown to lay at His feet? What if you have nothing to give Him. It would be like showing up to a birthday party when you were 7, and being the only kid that didn’t bring a gift. Ugh. It makes me hurt inside to imagine this.
Back in I Corinthians, the scripture mentions the man whose works all burn up and he suffers loss. Go read it again, real quick. It says he suffers loss. So many times we tell ourselves that there are no tears in heaven. Well, there are going to be tears for a time because this says he suffers loss. Wow. Let those words hit you. He is standing in front of Jesus and he feels great loss. It says that he makes it to heaven, but as if he had been rescued out of a flame. I imagine that like a person being rescued from a burning building and Jesus pulls him out of the building just as it is falling to the ground. He is singed a little from it. He makes it, but barely. I don’t want to be that guy. Do you? Don’t you want to be the one who is worshiping Jesus with crowns to lay at His feet? Don’t be the guy that barely makes it there. Praise God that He lets people in that way and after they suffer loss they will be with Jesus for eternity. Praise God. But, now that you know what can happen, let the Word deal with you and don’t be that guy.
You might be wondering why my blogs are not more about healing, or spiritual gifts, or how to find healing, or more about how I believe God is going to heal Clay. I can tell you, that is not really what is in my heart. And, if you could kneel beside me in my prayer time, you would see that those things are not what I spend the most time praying for. I do pray for Clay’s healing. I do ask God to heal him of this disease. And, I do tell God that it seems to me that a miraculous healing would be the best way for His Name to be made great. But, I spend more time praying for God to keep us from pride and sin. I pray for God to guard our testimony so that He can receive glory through this situation. I pray for Him to keep us from spiritual pride, or any sense that we have arrived because God chose us and trusted us with this task. I pray for my children that pride will not fool them into thinking they know the Lord, when they don’t. I’m praying that we will not put God in a box and require something of Him. I’m agreeing with God and telling Him that I accept His will for my life….no matter what that means. Why? Because He gave me this vision of that moment when I’m standing beside Him watching my works go into that fire. And, He placed inside of me an unquenched desire to see crowns come out on the other side.
My desire for Him to be glorified and to work through me to build on the foundation that Paul laid, is stronger than my desire for comfort. That is completely supernatural. So, please don’t read that and think that I have attained something great spiritually. I promise you and I beg you to understand. That is not me. It is not natural. It is the Holy Spirit in me that is alive and causing me to live with a spiritual perspective of my life. He is allowing me to really understand that God has a greater plan. That my life is not about what I see, it is about what I can not see. But, soon, very soon, I will see. You will see. We will all see it very soon. And, we won’t have any more time to earn rewards. It will all be over and the Day will come. We will be standing there. And, I wonder if we will wish we had more time to earn more rewards. When we see how indescribable He really is, I wonder if I will think, “Oh, God, let me go back to earth for just a little while so I can do more for You. So I can accomplish more for Your Kingdom.”
One last thought today.
I’ve had a front row seat to watch Clay as he has dealt with the expectation of death. Although we have had moments filled with tears, I have never heard Clay say that he doesn’t want to die. He tells me that he doesn’t want to leave me and the kids. But, he has not one time said he doesn’t want to die. He hasn’t asked God why. He hasn’t blamed God. He hasn’t wished for a different circumstance. Really, it’s been the opposite. When he talks about death, he gets a sweet look in his eyes. He knows that He’s going to be with Jesus. His love for this world immediately fell away and all he could say was, “I’m ready.” Jesus is not going to pull Clay out of a fire and bring him into heaven smelling like smoke. He has given him a great opportunity to fully prepare and to show the people in our life what it means to be ready.
Live today as an opportunity to let God work through you. Pray against your pride and self righteousness and ask God to reveal it to you so your heart doesn’t deceive you. Pray that your works will not be done in the flesh, but done in the Spirit. Let this image of standing with Jesus and watching your works go through the fire be burned into your spirit. Ask God to keep it before you so you will constantly be reminded of the importance of the work you do while you are here. Let’s do everything to earn those rewards so we can worship Him the way He deserves to be worshipped.