“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
Since I came to Christ in 1981, I can probably count on one hand the number of people who were concerned about what they were building on top of their salvation. For the most part, when confronted by this passage, people usually said, “At least you’d be saved!” So there was really little discussion about how to evaluate our works. Which are gold, silver, and precious stones? Which are wood, hay, and straw? Do we just do our best and hope we get a good evaluation?
I didn’t really get much insight about this matter until 2014, when my wife and I became missionaries with Child Evangelism Fellowship. We went to Homosassa with very little financial support, but we saw God move in powerful ways. Although our ministry had no building of it’s own, we got a lot of people trained to minister to children. Hundreds of children got a clear presentation of the Gospel, many were saved, and our adult volunteers were transformed by the experience. And so were we. And we partnered with people who brought so much more than money. One man had been organizing 24 hour prayer meetings for years, interceding for our ministry before we even got there. I know some gold, silver, and precious stones got used while we were there. And after we left, the work continued under new leadership.
By contrast, I had sought to partner with churches that just weren’t interested in evangelizing children. They were more interested in multimillion dollar building projects and athletic fields. Today, every time I see a brick engraved with a donor’s name, I think of the precious stones etched with the name of a volunteer who prayed with children to receive Christ, and sought to train them into disciples each week at a Good News Club.