Better Than I Deserve
4/9/13 at 04:32 PM 3 Comments

Hay, Wood and Stubble

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I had a burn pile some time ago and cast in all the twigs, branches, and leaves from my yard and set it aflame. While it burned, I contemplated what would remain of my works here on earth. Would much of it just burn up before the BEMA Judgment Seat of Christ? How much would survive and how much would turn to ash? The fact is that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10). The Apostle John wrote that we should “continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming” (1 John 2:28). Most assuredly, “we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Rom 14:10b) and “of us will give an account of ourselves to God” (Rom 14:12). Will I be ashamed or will I love His appearing (2 Tim 4:8)?

Even more fearful, if I deny Jesus Christ before others, I myself will be denied before the Father by Him. All too often I have denied my Lord in missed opportunities to proclaim the gospel. What a fearful thing that Jesus said in Mark 8:30, “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels." I should not fear what man will do or say to me when I tell people the news that if they die without the Savior, they will face eternal separation from God. I must realize that “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) for “in God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me” (Psalm 56:11)?

The fact is that when I do something good, I tend to tell others about it. When I do this I already have my rewards. My rewards for these good things will be burned up so I must strive to do these in secret to ensure that they will pass through the fire and not be burned up as wood, hay, or stubble. Jesus told us to “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matt 6:1-5). If I am doing good works to be seen by others, then I have my reward but it won’t be from God. Sadly, I have done this all too often and so what I did will be turned to ashes.

The conclusion is this, “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” (1 Cor 3:12-15). Yes, I myself will be saved but if I do good for others to be seen or if I do no works at all, I will make it to heaven, yes, but I will smell like I had just been bought at a fire sale. I will have nothing to show to my Lord.

All that remained in my burn pile that day were a couple of pieces of metal. I didn’t even know they were in the burn pile. Everything else was turned to ash but the metal survived the fire. Just like the metal that was not seen, our works that are done in private will survive the fire. Everything else will be gone. Just like my burn pile…nothing of the wood, hay or stubble remained…only the precious metals. What rewards will I have when I stand before the Lord? Will even the clothes on my back be burnt? May God help me to build on the foundation of gold, silver, and costly stones. All else will turn to ash.


Jack Wellman is Senior Writer at What Christians Want to Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible.

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