#ThinkingTuesday – Change your thinking; Change your life.
This week’s quote is by the amazing writer C.S. Lewis:
If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with itself.
— C.S Lewis
There’s a notion in christendom that our works are completely irrelevant and we should not be bothered about them. On the contrary, it’s time to change our thinking – our works are very important, God must be satisfied by our works for them to have any value. Infact I Corinthians 3:12-15 tells us that all our works will be tried by fire.
Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work, which he has built on, it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
I Corinthians 3:12-15 (NKJV)
Do not be confused, works have nothing to do with our salvation. These verses do not say that we shall receive salvation because of our works, rather they say in addition to our salvation, we shall receive a reward for our good works. Neither does it say that if a man’s work is burned, he will perish. It says he shall suffer loss; to suffer loss does not mean perishing.
So why are works important then?
They are important because the judgment described in those verses is for believers who are already in heaven.
Now you may think, “Well, who cares? I’m already in!” This is the wrong attitude. Completely wrong attitude, Okay?
We should not comfort ourselves by saying that as long as we are saved, it’s okay. Don’t neglect the words “as through fire.” What these words mean, I do not definitively know, but I know scripture says those whose works are burned shall suffer loss and be saved “as through fire”.
T hat’s not looking like a good experience if I’m to be honest.
The Apostle Paul says our works are going to be tried by fire. The things we do as believers are going to be scrutinized. Paul felt the need to say this to the church at Corinth because they were getting prideful, saying things like, “We’re an amazing church. We are doing great things. We’ve got a lot of spiritual gifts going on. We are good givers, good servers.” This is good but they were coming from a prideful position. Paul is therefore rebuking them by responding, “Yeah, you’re doing all the right things, but you’re starting to reek of pride. You have a wrong motive and God is going to burn that away because that is not the way he wants you to live.”
Proverbs 16:2 says, “All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the spirits.”
God’s going to check whether our motives were good or worthless and this is why works are important.
We do stuff for God all the time thinking we know our motives completely but we don’t. Only God knows the true desires and motives of the heart. Don’t let this become an excuse though, don’t say: “Oh I don’t think my motives are pure enough, I’ll be better off doing nothing.” No, we should constantly keep doing things and pray that God will reveal our motives to us and correct us when we are wrong.
Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, and stubble. These things are used as examples for us. None of these have any value to God – He uses gold for pavement.
Yes people. Our God is that awsum. These six things are not specific, rather they provide a picture of what we should be attending to in this life and an idea of what’s important to God and what isn’t.
That the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I Peter 1:7 (NKJV)
This scripture tells us that gold can represent genuine faith which is an operation of the Holy Spirit. Great faith (or lack thereof) is the only thing that astonished Christ while He walked among us. If we want to astonish Jesus, our works must be that of great and genuine faith. Great faith is of great value in the sight of God. If we want this kind of faith, take note: such faith will be tried.
If you think you have great faith, and you haven’t been through some trial that tested that faith, then there are two possibilities: either your faith isn’t ready for trial, or your season of trial hasn’t come yet. Be assured, it will be tried and for those who have come out the other side of that trial, their faith will bring praise, honor and glory to Jesus Christ who will present them with a reward at judgment.
Viewing hope as occupying the second place of graces, silver can represent the grace of hope. A good hope is also the work of the Holy Spirit who upholds those who have served the Lord for a long time. In this way silver also reminds us of faithfulness i.e. endurance. Staying and persevering in the faith is important to God. Consider what is said about faithfulness in II Timothy 4:7-8 (NKJV):
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Therefore, there’s a reward for those whose works are as silver, those who don’t lose hope, those who endure and keep on keepin’ on.
What are “precious stones?” Note that Paul Speaks of them in plural, therefore they are more than one. They can be seen as jewels in God’s sight.
Then those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the LORD of hosts,“On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.”
Malachi 3:16-17 (NKJV)
Those who fear the Lord are jewels in His sight, and we know that to fear the Lord is to love Him above all else. Therefore works of precious stones represent the hearts we witness to and the souls we bring to the love of Christ. It is a precious good work to have the love of God placed in the hearts of men by the Holy Spirit because love is the greatest of all graces.
God has an agenda for our lives, and He has things He wants us to do, and these are good works he has equipped us to do, according to Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV):
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Wood is not as valuable as gold or silver but it certainly isn’t useless either. You can make a pulpit out of it. You can make paper out of it and print a Bible or you can build a house with it. Psalm 127:1 (NKJV):
Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
Wood reminds us of the houses we’ve built, they may be nice houses, but the Lord didn’t build them. Wood refers to the things that we do, that are good things, but aren’t what God called us to do.
For example, giving money to missions is good, but if God called you to be a missionary and you gave money instead, that was disobedience and those works will be burned up as wood.
Hay is fed to animals; whatever isn’t finished off, is of no value. Hay represents the good things we started to do, but are of no value because we didn’t finish them.
As we see in the story of Jonah, God doesn’t give partial credit. If He called us to do something, and we start but don’t finish, it will profit us nothing in eternity. Galatians 5:7-8 (NASB):
You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth?
God is a God of all or nothing. We must never leave good works unfinished unless God calls us to something else. Hay is the opposite of silver, because incomplete works are the opposite of faithfulness.
These are the leftovers after grain has been harvested from crops. Stubble represents time wasted on Earth, doing things that accomplished nothing for God. Not sin;
if we are saved, our sins have been purged by the blood of Jesus, and we will not be judged for them but empty works. Idle pursuits. Vanities. I think the time we spend on personal hobbies will probably be stubble.
This doesn’t mean we should not have hobbies or do anything for the fun of it. Ladies and Gentlemen, God never gave any such command. But if that’s where all our time and effort are going, it doesn’t leave much that God can reward us for.
If we aren’t putting God first in our lives, we may end up at the judgment seat of Christ with a life full of 90% stubble and 10% of good works. This is a bad balance for the life of a believer! Just as hay is the opposite of silver, stubble is the opposite of precious stones, because empty works are the opposite of fruitful works.
Brethren! Let’s change our thinking and become watchful of our works, that we may sow up treasures in heaven that will produce rewards when tried by fire in eternity.