1 Corinthians 3
13The work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done.
14If the work which any person has built on this Foundation [any product of his efforts whatever] survives [this test], he will get his reward.
15But if any person’s work is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss [of it all, losing his reward], though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire. (AMP)
Since I’ve become an adult, I haven’t heard many sermons based on this text. In fact, I’ve sat in churches that never mention sin, let alone that one day, even as believers, we will give an account for our lives. I think people shy away from this truth because they’ve got it backward. When we look at our lives, most of us can see a lot of wood, hay and stubble and it grieves us. So, with that in mind, we don’t want people to come on Sunday and leave feeling condemned or hopeless for fear that they will just give up. I understand that but I think it is missing God’s heart. I think we sometimes attribute to God what is in our hearts, not His.
Jesus did not come to condemn the world. We know that because of John 3:17:
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV) So then, what is going on here? What if, just for a moment, our eyes were free of guilt and condemnation, and we saw this passage through His eyes of grace? What if we no longer saw this as the epitome of our own fear of failure but rather the pinnacle of God’s mercy and grace? Let’s look at it again.
It is true that every wrong motive will be revealed and the works of our flesh will go up in smoke, but is that really so bad? All that means is that in the presence of pure holiness, everything we’ve done will get a bath and those things that we did by the Spirit will now shine and will no longer be overshadowed by anything of our flesh. That’s not even the best part! The best part is that this means we have an opportunity now to live our lives as a living sacrifice, continually in the holy fire of God, and one day, when we stand before Him, we will receive the ultimate reward of laying our crowns at the feet of Jesus.
And what of those whose works do not stand the test? Even more mercy. They’re lives are purged by the fire and they remain in His presence beholding His smile. In my view, these are ones, who for whatever reason, never got the amazing opportunity to really get to know Him on Earth. Because as we get to know Him, and as our friendship with Him deepens, it is practically impossible not to love Him so much that we gladly enter the fire of His Presence now so that by the time we get there, there is much less purging to be done.
Our God is not a harsh taskmaster, that would be the Enemy. He is not condemning and He is not here to make us feel guilty. He is however, holy. He holds that as the standard, not to grieve us but to free us and to fill us with joy unspeakable. We, who have and are nothing, have the opportunity to thank Jesus with the lives we lived on Earth. There is no greater joy that I can imagine than to see Him smiling at us.
And He will.