What Sort of Work

“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 3:13)

This key verse of Scripture gives the principle by which God will evaluate our works in that great future day when all believers will be assembled before “the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). The non-believer will be judged elsewhere, while this will be a judgment of believers only, for when the purifying fire tries our works, “if any man’s work abide . . . he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15).

Note carefully the basis for determining rewards or loss of rewards. It is not the amount of work done—not the number of witnessing contacts or souls won to Christ, not the number of students taught in a school or the amount of money given to missions. Neither are rewards based on the type of work done; menial labor is no less eligible for heavenly rewards than is the ministry of the gospel.

The criterion of the eternal value of a believer’s work on Earth is what sort it is! That is, what is the motivation of the work, the sincerity, the dedication? The Greek word translated “sort” definitely conveys the meaning of quality rather than quantity of results or type of occupation. No matter the nature of the work, or its size, the question is, what sort is it? Jesus knows that “he that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10), and so He will “give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).

Therefore, “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). HMM

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