If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

1 Cor 3:14-15.

I used to read this passage imagining a scene from a movie with a stunt man crashing through the flames as a perilously engulfed, heat-soaked building crashed around his dramatic escape.

I read the passage with a different image today. In this chapter, Paul is discussing Christian maturity, growth, togetherness, and legacy. He switches illustrations, in verse 9, from that of a farmer working the fields to that of a building being built, “For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” There, that was the swap, from farming to building. The builders are Christians who are building up the church. The quality of their work will be tested by fire. Today when I read the passage, I don’t picture a building burning, I picture the people I know as the parts of the building that will be tested by fire. My family, friends, partners in ministry at the church, neighbors, anyone in my life or circle of influence is going to be shown for what they are on “the Day” (verse 13) of judgment. Has what I’ve done helped people around me escape the fire?

Their future is a reflection of the quality of my work. Am I building people upon the foundation of Jesus Christ (vs 11)? If my work and influence are not leading people to live for or know Jesus, then my work will burn up before my eyes, “the builder will suffer loss” (vs 15). If my life is helping people know Jesus, trust Jesus, and walk in the way and with the heart of Jesus, then those people are the “gold, silver, costly stones” of verse 12 that survives. The way I imagine it now, is that those people, unscathed by fire, are all the precious reward I need. How about you?

Pastor John Riley
Jr. High Pastor

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