According to God’s grace that was given to me,
I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it.
But each one must be careful how he builds on it.
(1 Corinthians 3:10, HCSB)
Based on what others have said, I have always though that 1 Corinthians 3:10-17 was talking about God evaluating what I put into my own life following my salvation—and that the “fire” that reveals my building materials is to be applied on Judgment Day. However, a more accurate interpretation, based on the context (especially v. 10), seems to be that the work being evaluated is that of the builder—the one leading people to Christ, preaching and discipling others. The “fire” that reveals his/her choice of building materials are the difficulties that come into the disciple’s life.
Anyone who disciples others using the Scriptures rightly—pointing them to Christ and cultivating a godly lifestyle dependent upon and guided by the Holy Spirit—is using gold, silver and precious stones to build on the foundation of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. That “house” constructed on the Rock with solid building materials will endure both storms and fires that assail the disciple (See Matthew 7:24-25 & Luke 6:47-48).
In contrast, the so-called “minister” who caters to the flesh, placating the “itching ears” of those who want to justify their own selfish appetites, is using shoddy materials to build into the lives of their proselytes (2 Timothy 4:2-4). Instead of correcting those in error, they are reinforcing bad behavior and thinking, setting up folks to fail. If we preach a message of works, philosophy, pop psychology or “anything goes,” we are helping people build their lives on something other than Christ—a foundation of sand rather than rock. They won’t survive the trials of fire, wind or waves that come any more than a hut of sticks or thatch erected on a beach (Matthew 7:26-27 & Luke 6:49).
So whether you are a teacher, an employer, a minister, a parent, or just an ordinary guy or gal, take care what you say to others. Don’t excuse bad behavior. Call people to a higher standard like Jesus did. For your sake and that of those you speak to, use words that will build up and strengthen people, so they can please God and live lives that stand the test of time (Ephesians 4:11-16 & 29-32, Hebrews 10:23-25, Acts 20:28-32, 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 & 14:1-33, 1 Thessalonians 5:11).