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Ash-heap Christians

April 29, 2018

“The fire will test the quality of each man’s work” 1 Corinthians 3:13

Several years ago, a series of fires raged through parts of southern California, fanned by the notorious Santa Ana winds. Laguna Hills, a posh, picture-perfect community set inland from the ocean, was hit especially hard. Flames jumped from house to house, fueled by cedar roof shingles. The fire consumed everything in its path—with one exception. The home of building contractor to Bui stood tall. The contractor wanted his home to last, so he constructed his roof with concrete and tile. The fire tested the roof, found it inflammable, and skipped over it to more combustible structures.

We can learn a lesson from To Bui’s careful planning. Since God’s Word tells us that everything we do will be tested by fire, we should live in such a way that we bring to the fire of God’s testing things that will pass the heat test. In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul warns us about the danger of living lives made of things like wood, hay, and straw—things that have no impact on eternity. Temporary things, whether wrong or right, that are of no spiritual consequence. Francis Schaeffer calls people who are rich in temporary things “ash-heap Christians” who, at the end of their lives, will be standing before God with nothing of lasting value to bring to Him.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in showing up before God knee-deep in ashes. That’s a really scary thought! But, I also know how easy it is to lose sight of our accountability in the last days and to easily squander our time, money, and relationships on the “here and now.” On what Jesus says are things that moths eat up and that thieves break in and steal (Luke 12:33).

The alternative is to live for the things built on Jesus’ foundation. Paul contrasts these works to wood, hay, and straw by calling them “gold, silver, and costly stones”—commodities that are not only fireproof but purified by fire.

So what would a life full of noncombustible works look like? What does it mean to live for the things Jesus was committed to?

First and foremost, Jesus was passionately addicted to one commodity on this planet: people. He knew that everything else is getting checked at the border! Prioritizing people and their needs is where noncombustible living starts. From the poor and the losers in life to the wealthy and influential, no one escapes the swath of God’s love and mercy. Even our enemies are worthy of the grace of God’s forgiveness through us. Colleagues at work, lost people needing a Savior, to say nothing of those closest to us—spouses, parents, kids, grandkids—all are in need of a loving touch from us in the name of Jesus.

Then there is the capacity to fireproof our lives by using our time, talents, and gifts for things that are eternally important to Jesus. Serving His cause with our abilities—even in the most menial tasks—puts a little gold and silver in the backpack we are carrying home. Generously supporting God’s work with our financial resources and being willing to send our sons and daughters into ministry when they are called all load us up with things that pass the heat test!

The choice is ours: Ash heaps? Or gold, silver, and costly stones? I’ll take the precious commodities route. How about you?


  • Take a piece of paper and divide it into three columns. Write “people” at the top of one column, “finances” in the second column, and “time” in the third. Jot down the specific resources God has given you and how you can use them for Him.
  • Are you living the life of an “ash-heap Christian”? Rate yourself on a scale of one to ten. A lower rating means you are living a combustible life. What can you do to improve?
  • Consider rededicating your life to the things Jesus is committed to. Pray and renew your promise to live for Him in all that you do, asking Him to help you use your relationships, finances, and time for His glory.