By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (NIV 1984)
In the passage above Paul is talking about his labors for Christ. He, the ‘expert builder’ of people, reminds the Corinthians that there will be rewards given at the ‘bema’ judgment seat at the end of days. All of our labors will be tested by the fire of God, revealing true motives and outcomes. Some will lose potential rewards while others will be rewarded for their faithfulness. Salvation is not at risk, this is rewards for service.
As Kingdom leaders who labor for the Lord and His purposes, the reminder that we will have to give an account of our labors should be sobering. The writer of Hebrews says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.” Hebrews 13:17 (NIV 1984) We are stewards of a trust given to us by the Lord, the trust of leading His people to accomplish His purposes.
In the parable of the Talents there is an accounting when the servants are called to report to their Master the results of their labor. Faithfulness is rewarded by the Master (see Matthew 25). Immediately following this parable is another titled the Sheep and the Goats. Referring to the final judgment, the sheep (faithful ones) are welcomed into heaven and are surprised at their reward. Note that in this instance, they are rewarded for service given to other believers -“whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) We see similar principles of reward for labor taught in the parable of the Ten Gold Coins (see Luke 19).
Your labor for the Lord does not go unnoticed by Him. There will be a reckoning one day and rewards will be given for your faithful service.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (NIV 1984)