11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.I Corinthians 3:11-15
The saints of God shall be judged by Him, not for penalty for sin, but for rewards for our labor for Him. For we as Christians earn rewards as we work to fulfill God’s will for our lives. Yes, we are saved by faith, but we are saved to work for the Kingdom of God, fulfilling His will. For our labors, we earn eternal rewards. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Cor. 2:9) You have probably heard the saying, “You can’t take it with you, but you can send it ahead.” Even Jesus Christ said “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21). When you serve Christ faithfully, He blesses you in this life, and rewards you in the next.
We earn eternal rewards, but we can also loose them if we are not careful, and do not take heed. We do not want to get to Heaven and have the Lord tell us “Here are your rewards. But those are what you could have had.” How do we loose our rewards?
We loose our rewards by willfully sinning. Refusing to rid ourselves of sin in our lives will cause us loss of rewards. If you are serving faithfully in one area of your life, yet sinning secretly in another area, you are earning rewards just to loose them for your continued sin. Willful and continued sin causes the loss of blessings on earth, and rewards in Heaven.
King David has been described as a man after God’s own heart. He wasn’t perfect, but he didn’t sin willfully and blatantly for the first part of his life. God blessed him and all he did. But when he looked too long after that bathing woman, not turning his head away, but allowing the lust to take root, then deciding to take his sin to the next level, to adultery, then to murder, God punished him, and removed some of the blessing. Even after he repented and turned back to God, the blessing was still removed. He had troubles because of this sin for the rest of his life. His son rebelled against him. Nations he’d conquered began to revolt. All because of ONE sin. David committed only two major sins while he was king (that with Bathsheeba, and numbering the armies). The rest of his life, he lived to please the Lord. Yet he was forced to flee from his own son! One willful sin can ruin years of faithfully serving the Lord. And if David’s earthly blessings could be taken away so quickly, how about our eternal rewards? They can be taken away just as quickly.
This proves that we must all take heed for the deceitfulness of sin. For it is when we think that we are standing tall we are at our greatest risk of falling. (1 Cor 10:12).
Will the Lord tell you, “Here are your rewards. Those over there are rewards that you earned, but lost, because you committed one willful sin, and you refused to give up another sin even though you knew that I despised it.”
You can also loose your rewards by not doing the will of God for your life. In not fulfilling His will, you deprive yourself of rewards that He WANTED to give you. If God calls you to be a pastor, but you choose to be a stock broker, you are living outside of His will. Even though you are not committing any besetting sin, you are rejecting what God has for you, both in this life, and the one to come. You loose the blessings and peace of God when you step outside of His will.
I will give an example from my own life. God told me that He wanted me to offer Bibles to those who couldn’t get or afford them. I set up a special webpage for Bible requests. Eventually they became coming. I ordered a case of cheap Bibles and began shipping. Eventually I ran out of Bibles, and I decided not to order any more because of the cost. Not long after, my cell phone died, and I had to buy a new one. I tried buying one on ebay, but when I paid, I didn’t notice that PayPal was using an empty bank account. So I was stuck with two overdraft fees (because PayPal tried to process the payment twice). I was forced to return that phone anyway, and bought a new phone. A month later, I was traveling out of town, and blew a tire for no reason. After this, I quickly realized I was in the wrong, and repented. The Bibles have been available since.
So, even if you are working for the Kingdom of God, if you do not submit fully and answer your calling, you will loose rewards.
Will the Lord tell you, “You led twenty to Me. Here are your rewards for this. But I called you to be a missionary. You refused, and stayed at your six-figure job. If you had fulfulled your calling, two thousand would have been saved, and these over here would have been yours also. But most of these to whom I sent you will spend eternity in Hell, because you refused to go. Their blood is on your hands!”
You can loose your rewards by continuing in sin, or by not doing God’s will for your life. You can also loose them by not doing anything. You can loose rewards by doing little or nothing for the Lord, therefore not earing them in the first place. You work for the Lord, but you’re lazy on the job. You can fool an earthly employer, but you can’t fool God. You want the free ride into Heaven, but you don’t want to do your share of the Lord’s work here on earth. Or maybe you work, but you don’t give Him your best. You give Him second-best, or forbid it, your worst. Perhaps you answer your calling, but reluctantly. You serve, but not earnestly. You labor, but produce low quality products, wood, hay and stubble. These will not pass the fire test, and you shall suffer loss.
Will the Lord say to you, “Your works have not survived the trial by fire. These rewards, which you could have had, shall not be yours.”
Therefore, take heed. Look to yourselves, that we receive a FULL reward. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11). But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon (1 Cor 3:10).
But if you do not have the foundation, you do NOT have any rewards. You cannot earn eternal rewards without Christ as your Saviour. If you do not have Jesus Christ, you have neither the eternal life nor rewards. If you die without accepting Christ, the Lord will tell you “This is Heaven. This is what you could have had. But you rejected My Son, and I have no choice, but to cast you into the Lake of Fire, to suffer for eternity.”