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Biblical Facts about Rewards, Part 1

Scripture not only supports the idea of eternal rewards, it spells out the specifics. In 1 Corinthians 3:10–14, we find three primary facts about rewards. We’ll look at the first two today and complete the list next week.

Before I mention the facts, let’s review the verses:

According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. (1 Corinthians 3:10–14)

First, most rewards are received in heaven, not on earth. Please don’t misunderstand. There are earthly rewards. Even the world provides certain people with special honors: the Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Peace Prize, Academy Awards, Emmy, Tony, Grammy—and we all know that athletes win All-American honors or All-Pro or the Heisman Trophy. The military also offers medals of bravery, like the Navy Cross, the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and the ultimate, the Medal of Honor.

But when it comes to servanthood, God reserves special honor for that yet future day when “each man’s work will become evident” (3:13) and “he will receive a reward” (3:14). Most of the rewards God’s servants will receive will be given after death, not before.

Second, all rewards are based on quality, not quantity. Did you notice this principle in those verses from 1 Corinthians? “The fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work” (3:13, emphasis added).

We humans are impressed with size and volume, noise and numbers.

  • It is easy to forget that God’s eye is always on motive, authenticity, the real truth beneath the surface, never the external splash or surface impressions.
  • When He rewards servants, it will always be based on quality—which means everybody has an equal opportunity to receive a reward.

The dear older lady who prays in private will be rewarded as much as the famous evangelist who preaches to multiple thousands. The quiet, faithful friend who assists another in need will be rewarded as much as the strong spiritual leader whose gifts are more visible. A cool cup of water given to a hurting soul, bruised with adversity, will be rewarded as much as any act of sacrifice on the mission field.

God, our faithful Lord, promises to reward the quality of our work.

The glory may be postponed until eternity, but it will come, which leads me into the third fact about rewards. Stay tuned. . . .

—Chuck

Comments

What I also notice about this passage is that all the items listed -- gold, silver, et al -- are items that at the time of the passage's writing were known to be consumed by fire. It leads the reader to ask -- what sort of substance can resist fire?

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