Incalculable


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It happened early morning on a day usually associated with jokes and pranks. But it was not at all funny. It was actually sorrowful. 

Today (April 1, 2016), fire gutted the Faculty Center of the University of the Philippines Diliman. The cause of the fire was not yet determined as of this writing. More than the huge damage to property, the official statement from its Chancellor, Dr. Michael Tan, pointed out an even bigger damage on their Facebook page.

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There were no injuries or casualties. The other losses are incalculable, considering all the books, research notes, archival materials that went up in flames. There was much grieving from faculty, staff and students who rushed to the site.
I could not even begin to imagine the loss of those precious lifeworks. The proverbial blood, tears and sweat flowed because of those “incalculable” materials. Now, it was reduced to ashes.

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Without minimizing their loss, I was reminded of a much greater loss. It would happen at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15, ESV. Emphasis added.)
There are two kinds of building materials here. The first kind (“gold, silver, precious stones”) is valuable and enduring. The second kind (“wood, hay, straw”) is worthless and temporary. The issue here is which kind of materials are we using in our work for the Lord. Only the right kind of materials will pass the Lord’s test. 
The day of judgment is when Christ will judge the quality of His servants’ work (2 Cor. 5:10). It is not a question of salvation which is a gift (Rom. 6:23), or a matter of individual deeds (Eph. 2:8–9), but of service which is judged on the basis of quality not quantity. Considerable apparent success can be had by dint of human effort and wisdom (cf. 1 Cor. 2:4), but unless it is empowered by God in accordance with His plan it cannot last (Ps. 127:1). [1]
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This is a judgment for believers only. We should not confuse it with the Great White Throne Judgment. Note that even if one suffers loss in this judgment, “he himself will be saved”. This judgment is not about whether one is saved or not. It is about whether one has done the work of the Lord according to His ways or not. It is also about whether we are doing His work with the right motive or the wrong one. 

The question now is, when our work is tested, would we be rewarded or would we suffer loss?

[1] David K. Lowery, “1 Corinthians” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, Eds. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck and Dallas Theological Seminary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983, 1985), 512. Emphasis added.

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