For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 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 3:11-15, N.K.J.V.)
The fact that Paul begins this passage by emphasizing that the foundation is Jesus Christ proves that these words are written to Christians. Only Christians have lives that are built upon that eternal foundation. But that common foundation is where the similarities end in the lives of Christians. Why? It’s because some Christians build wisely upon the foundation while others build foolishly.
Building wisely upon the foundation of Christ equates to the Christian: serving Christ well, incorporating His teachings into daily affairs, living a life of personal holiness, being Christian salt and light in every situation, seeking God’s will regarding each decision, and being sensitive and obedient to the voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Such things make for what Paul describes as “gold,” “silver,” and “precious stones,” and they stand the test of God’s judgment by fire in heaven. In so doing they merit heavenly rewards for the Christian.
By way of contrast, building foolishly upon the foundation of Christ equates to the Christian: serving Christ poorly, ignoring His teachings in daily affairs, living a life of carnality and worldliness, failing to be Christian salt and light in every situation, refusing to seek God’s will regarding each decision, and being insensitive and disobedient to the voice of the indwelling Holy Spirit. Such things make for what Paul describes as “wood,” “hay,” and “straw,” and they get burned into obliteration by God’s judgment of fire in heaven. In so doing they fail to merit heavenly rewards for the Christian.
In light of this, Christian, you need to ask yourself: “What does the life I am building upon the foundation of Christ look like? Am I building with gold, silver, and precious stones? Or am I building with wood, hay, and straw?” Putting it another way, all that stuff that you are getting accomplished, how much of it will translate to heavenly rewards at the judgment seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10)? Be careful; you don’t want to stand before Christ with a bunch of wood, hay, and straw. Jesus won’t kick you out of heaven for such inferior building materials, but He certainly won’t reward you for them, either.