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 3:12-15
Over and over in the Bible, it tells us that we will be judged, both Christians and non-Christians. Non Christians will be judged for their sin. Christians will be judged for their works. But, you say, aren't we all saved by God's grace, not works? Absolutely. But it's what we do with that grace that determines how we spend eternity. I challenge you to type in the word "reward" in an online Bible software and search the New Testament. I think you'll be surprised. I know, I was.
Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does. Ephesians 6:7
So, how can we build with gold and silver and costly stones like it speaks of in 1 Corinthians, the material that won't be burned up when God tests it with His fire? I believe it is anything we do that we do all for God's glory, out of complete Faith, and without a shred of selfish ambition. Just think about the last time you did something you thought was good. (Perhaps you gave someone a gift, or volunteered at a soup kitchen, or did the dishes) Now, if you're honest, if you go deep inside yourself, did you do it completely for God's glory? or were you hoping for some praise, a pat on the back, some recognition from someone, or to avoid punishment, perhaps you just want people to think you're a kind person. I believe if we are all honest, there's rarely a time when we do something without a single inch of selfish interest. Now consider this, suppose the next time the opportunity comes up to do the same "good" thing, but this time, after you do all the work, someone else will get all the recognition. Ouch. Hurts, doesn't it?
How can there be any hope for us selfish, fallen creatures then? Can we ever hope to aspire to such purely unselfish giving? such unconditional love? Fortunately for us, God is in the business of heart transplants and He has promised to give us a new heart, to make us like Him. (Romans 8:29) This is a process and it takes time, but we can be assured that if we recognize our filthy hearts and truly submit to Him, He will complete the good work He has begun in us. (Phil 1:6) Then you'll begin to live that "abundant life" he promised for his true disciples.
Unfortunately for some, they will only build their Christian homes with hay, straw and wood, and in the end, all of it will burn. All the good acts they commited for selfish reasons, all the "things" they accumulated their whole lives for their own pleasure, and the really sad thing is they will not have lived the full life God had for them. As my pastor says, some will barely make it into heaven, but with their rear ends on fire!