~ Two Kinds of Service for God ~
The “Three Little Pigs” chapter in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 3. The Apostle Paul tells us that our ministry and work for Christ may look good on the outside but God knows the true cost, character, construction, and combustibility of our efforts. He poses severe warnings to us.
In the Old Covenant we find a somewhat similar passage. “Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame consumes the chaff, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom will ascend like dust; because they have rejected the law of the Lord of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the anger of the Lord is aroused against His people; He has stretched out His hand against them and stricken them, and the hills trembled. Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still” (Isaiah 5:24-25).
Isaiah is talking about the unbeliever and warning that it is not too late to turn to God. It is critically important to realize that the entire third chapter of 1 Corinthians is written to Christians. It is not about salvation but about rewards.
“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 Corinthians 3:12-15).
Gold—Silver—Precious Stones ~ In the Old Covenant we find gold overlaid on wood—a picture of Christ’s deity overlaid on His humanity. Silver seems to represent atonement and redemption. Individual believers are called “lively stones” (1 Peter 2:5). Spiritually these three items represent reality and inner beauty.
Wood—Hay—Stubble ~ These are activities, as good as they may or may not be, which are done “in the flesh” (1 Peter 4:2) or with sinful motives. Spiritually these three items represent outward appearance.
There are differences in the characteristics of these two trios of materials.
Cost ~ Wood, hay, and stubble are inexpensive. Gold, silver, and precious stones are costly.
Character ~ Wood, hay, and stubble are commonplace and can be easily produced by man. Gold, silver, and precious stones cannot be grown by man, are much more rare, and are produced by God.
Construction ~ Wood, hay, and stubble provide for quick and easy construction. Gold, silver, and precious stones are produced slowly.
Combustibility ~ Wood, hay, and stubble are easily burned. Gold, silver, and precious stones are not combustible.
Please read the following prayerfully.
“But for right now, friends, I'm completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You're acting like infants in relation to Christ.
As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything's going your way? When one of you says, ‘I'm on Paul's side’ [or ‘I am a Baptist’], and another says, ‘I'm for Apollos’ [or I am a Presbyterian], aren't you being totally infantile?
I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow.
Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God's field in which we are working. Or, to put it another way, you are [working on] God's house.
Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you'll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won't get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn't, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won't be torn out; you'll survive—but just barely.
You realize, don't you, that you are the temple of God, and God Himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God's temple, you can be sure of that. God's temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
Be God's fool—that's the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It's written in Scripture, He exposes the chicanery of the chic. The Master sees through the smoke screens of the know-it-alls. I don't want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift.
You are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God” (1 Corinthians 3:1, 3-4, 6, 8-9, 10b-17, 19-21, 23, The Message).
~ Robert Lloyd Russell, ABUNDANT LIFE NOW