“… each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.
— 1 Corinthians 3:13–14
Let us get it clear once and for all: Heaven is a “free gift,” not an “earned reward.” I once saw a pamphlet with this question on the cover: “What must you do to go to heaven?” I opened it up, and the inside was blank. This pamphlet clearly communicated the message that we can do nothing to earn our salvation. Jesus has already paid the price in full for you and for me. Isn’t that an incredible truth?
We can’t save ourselves through good deeds, but we can do good works as a way of thanking God for our salvation. The Bible says that God will reward us in Heaven for these works of thanksgiving. Scripture doesn’t tell us what rewards we’ll receive, but it does tell us how to earn them. God sets aside rewards for those who experience persecution for Christ’s sake (Matthew 5:12). He also rewards those who are good stewards of the things God has given to them (Matthew 25:21). God has also planned special rewards for those who love their enemies (Luke 6:35) and especially for those who faithfully witness to others (John 4:35–36).
Keep in mind that at the Final Judgment the fire will try our works to see which will last as heavenly rewards. According to the Bible, some of us build with gold, silver, and precious stones, while others of us build with wood, hay, and stubble. Through the fire, the gold, silver, and precious stones will remain, but the wood, hay, and stubble will go up in smoke. The worst disaster that could befall a human being is to lose his or her soul, but those of us who believe in Jesus’ gift needn’t fear that fate. However, we may face the second-worst disaster—watching all the work of our lifetimes burned up in the fire at the Final Judgment (1 Corinthians 3:15).
Are you investing your time this day to make an eternal impact? Are you building with gold, silver, and precious stone or with wood, hay, and stubble? I encourage you to do good deeds with eternity in mind, so that at the Final Judgment you may receive the best reward of all—hearing God say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”