Wood, Hay, and Stubble

“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon.
But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
(1 Corinthians 3:10-13)

Brethren, what an encouragement this passage gives to me! It shows me that Christ is the sure foundation, that we may build upon him a stable frame, and that in the end, it will not be quantity but quality that is sorted by fire.

“Gold, silver, precious stones,” As valuable as these may be, they cannot surpass the Foundation for beauty or rarity. Everyone sees these, and marvels, but the Foundation is unseen, yet it is the reinforcement that supports it all. Jesus in our trials, like Abraham and Job- brings forth gold. Jesus in our Bible, expounding from the beginning all things concerning Christ- brings forth the silver. Jesus in our conversation, our witness and our walk- brings forth precious jewels, souls won to Him. What high and holy service it is that builds with these three.

“Wood, hay, stubble;” There is no comparison to the glory of the Foundation in these. There is no flaunting or flamboyance that would eclipse the real Treasure of Jesus Christ. How many times I have felt that my life is nothing more than wood, hay, and stubble- nothing but routine, stress, and leftovers. Will any of it abide the fire? How can I appear in the presence of God with such rude material?

The wood must be covered to be acceptable. When Bezaleel fashioned the incense altar, he built a coarse frame of wood. But knowing this altar would carry prayers to the God of Heaven, he overlaid it with gold. (Exodus 37:26) The altar of incense, lit with a coal from the brazen altar endured because it was covered. Does the supreme motive of service to God apply to whatsoever you do?

The hay must be consumed to be acceptable. Hay was never meant to be a building material. But that which is eaten preserves riches and “the crown” (Proverbs 27:23-24) maintained by the flocks and herds. God will not recognize what you HAVE on judgment day, but He will reward you for what you GAVE. Paul said he would gladly “spend and be spent for you.” No, hay cannot endure the fire, it should be consumed NOW before it burns up THEN.

I did not say to be unprepared. I did not say to be wasteful. But let me ask you: will God leap from the throne and throw his arms around you and say: “Well done, faithful servant- you had the biggest bank account of your whole church! Way to go!”? Don’t be silly.

The stubble is the refuse, the leftovers from grazing cattle, or the stalks left from a reaped field. Stubble is totally useless by itself. It’s no good for eating, no good for building; it is good for nothing! But there was one time that the stubble was mingled in the furnace of affliction and in the toils and sufferings of God’s people in captivity- and they made brick. (Exodus 5:12)  Bricks baked in a kiln endure the fire.

Now, stubble is not the Lord’s first choice, nor his second, nor third, but last. But I take great hope in this, that when this world pressures my time and pushes my strength until I’m at my wits end, my hope is this: that though it may not be much that I build thereupon, yet HOW I build may endure the fire. The Bible says, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”  (2 Timothy 2:12) and my friend, EVERYBODY suffers. But how do you suffer?

The world gives us no time to worship our king. We scrape and survive the best we can, we rush home from work in time for a quick shower, a prayer with our family, and then to bed to rise and slave another day away. But put away the cell phone, turn off the radio and television, shut down the computer, and close the door on the world- and you CAN find a time and place to worship the Lord. It may be merely stubble. It may be stubble that costs you extra work and time, but it will endure.

Jesus said something about giving I’d like to apply lastly. He said of the Pharisees that were tithing of their salt and pepper (herbs and spices), that they had left off to give what God was really interested in: judgement and the love of God. You see what was greater in God’s eyes (judgement and His love) versus what was not so important (herbs), yet he does not refuse it. Here’s what He said: “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Luke 11:42) My friend, seek the gold, silver, and precious stones, and where you find them, BUILD! This ought ye to have done… and where you can’t find those valuable things- serve Him in the wood, hay, and stubble, and MAKE EVERY SECOND COUNT.

I’ve hoped to show you today that even basic, laborious duties and tasks may endure the fire when they are covered by a supreme motive, mingled with suffering affliction, or spared by prolonged service. God bless you as you build!

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