If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. (1 Corinthians 3:14 ESV)
The foundation Paul is speaking of here is Christ (1 Cor 3:11). The foundation is the finished work, the wonderful grace of God that freely gives us righteousness in Christ… not in our works.
However, this week we’re talking about works. Works are essentially whatever is done in addition to what Jesus has done, the foundation. Our works are not able to save us, achieve more love from God, increase our righteousness, make us more acceptable to God… but they can grant us a reward.
Referring to works, Paul talks about building on the foundation and he says you can build with, “gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw…”
Then goes on the say the work will be obvious and be revealed by fire… meaning it’s going to be tested. If the work is built the correct way (because that’s the variable, since he already gave us the materials) then it will either be burned up or will survive.
What’s burned up will be gone, even though the person who does the work will be saved. (1 Cor 3:15) I believe this work is the work of sin and the work of self-righteousness. Anytime you try to accomplish something — that Jesus has already finished — it’s pointless work that doesn’t honor what Christ has done for us. That’s why Romans 12 says we need to know what is “perfect” – meaning what is finished.
But, we will receive a reward for the work that survives. What kind of work are we talking about? Works of faith. Anytime you do something as an overflow of right believing, God will honor it and reward us for it. When we fully embrace His love for us and flow out with faith-filled labors of love for His namesake… God blesses it.
As we’ve talked about works this week, I pray you’ve been encouraged.
Stay faithful to the One who works on our behalf!