Building With Fire-Resistant Materials
“Some will use gold or silver or precious stones in building on the foundation; others will use wood or grass or straw.”—1 CORINTHIANS 3:12, Today’s English Version.
1, 2. (a) What would be more painful than seeing one’s house burn to the ground? (b) What similar disappointment do Christian ministers sometimes experience?
IT IS certainly a pitiful sight when a beautiful house burns to the ground. How especially sad it would be if you had built it! To see all your time and effort go up in smoke would be painful indeed. And yet this pain is nothing compared to the hurt felt by the Christian parent whose son or daughter abandons the truth for the things of the world. Little could be more painful than seeing one’s child come to such spiritual ruin.
2 The feelings in the hearts of such parents may be somewhat similar to the disappointment that you as a Christian minister may have experienced. Perhaps you started a Bible study with an individual and then spent months or even years helping him to come to a knowledge of the truth. You see him attend meetings and even begin sharing in the field ministry. But then, suddenly, he weakens spiritually and becomes inactive, perhaps even returning to former bad practices. How disappointing!
3. Faced with such situations, what questions naturally arise, and upon what do the answers depend?
3 Sad to say, this happens from time to time. So it is only natural to ask: Why does it happen? Is there anything we can do about it? While the individual’s own heart condition may be a factor, to some extent the answers to those questions depend upon the answer to another question: When you teach others, are you building on a right foundation with fire-resistant materials? Our clearly understanding what this means and how to do it is a key in helping those we teach—our Bible students and our children—to stand firm in the truth.
Who Does the Building?
4. At 1 Corinthians 3:10, 11, to what does Paul liken the Christian minister, and how?
4 In answer, we turn to 1 Corinthians chapter 3, where Paul likens the Christian minister to a builder. We read: “According to the undeserved kindness of God that was given to me, as a wise director of works I laid a foundation, but someone else is building on it. But let each one keep watching how he is building on it. For no man can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”—1 Corinthians chapter 3 Verses 10, 11.
5. (a) According to the context, what kind of building work is Paul discussing? (b) In what sense does the Christian minister ‘build people’?
5 What kind of building work is Paul talking about? Well, note the context: “You people are . . . God’s building.” “You people are God’s temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:9, 16) So it is a figurative building work, one involving “people.” That is to say, the Christian minister ‘builds people’ in the sense that he endeavors to build up in interested persons a Christian personality, making disciples out of them.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
6, 7. (a) On whose responsibility do Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 focus? (b) Nevertheless, how is a joint building work involved? (c) What will a further consideration of Paul’s words help us to see?
6 Does that suggest that the Christian teacher has the sole responsibility for how the student develops? Not at all. In the first place, we are “God’s fellow workers.” While Paul’s words at 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 focus on the responsibility of the one building, or teaching, really it is a joint building work in which the student also is involved. We might compare it to preparing a soldier for battle. Others may train and equip him, but once he is out in the battle the soldier must put up a fight, using what he has learned. His very life depends upon it! Similarly, the one teaching endeavors to build a genuine Christian, one able to resist the pressures and temptations of this system. At the same time, though, the student has a responsibility; he has to apply in his life what he learns.—Matthew 7:24-27; Philippians 2:12, 13.
7 Nevertheless, the fact remains that the one teaching has a weighty responsibility. As we further consider Paul’s words, we will see the importance of teaching God’s Word effectively so as to build in others appreciation for our heavenly Father.
Lay the Right Foundation
8. In this figurative building work, what is the foundation?
8 Before you can put up a building, you must first lay the foundation. So in the building work of making disciples, what is the foundation? Paul answers: “No man can lay any other foundation than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11) Yes, the right foundation upon which we are to build is Jesus Christ.—Compare Ephesians 2:20-22 and 1 Peter 2:4-6.
9. (a) In teaching others, what is involved in laying Christ as a foundation? (b) Why is it important for our Bible students to understand the whole truth about Jesus?
9 How can we lay Christ as a foundation when teaching others? To begin with, we must teach the truth about Jesus and help others to build their lives around that truth. That includes helping them to put faith in Jesus as our Helper and the One through whom Jehovah provides the ransom. (Matthew 20:28; 1 John 2:1, 2) But that is not all. Jesus Christ is the appointed head of the Christian congregation. (Colossians 1:18) He is also earth’s rightful King, and in that capacity he will soon “complete his conquest” at Har–Magedon. (Revelation 6:1, 2) Clearly, then, to lay Christ as a foundation involves teaching the whole truth about him, helping others to understand Jesus’ role in the outworking of God’s purpose. Why is this so important? If our students put faith in Jesus as God’s reigning King, they will not easily get disheartened over world conditions and the problems of daily living.—Isaiah 28:16; 1 Peter 2:6-8.
10. (a) According to Ephesians 3:17-19, what else is involved in laying Christ as a foundation? (b) How do we let Christ ‘dwell in our hearts’?
10 However, more is involved in laying Christ as a foundation. We should have the same aim as did the apostle Paul. His prayer for the Ephesians was that “the Christ dwell through your faith in your hearts with love; that you may be rooted and established on the foundation, in order that you may be thoroughly able to grasp mentally with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness that God gives.” (Ephesians 3:17-19) Notice that being “rooted and established on the foundation” involves having Christ ‘dwell in our hearts.’ What does this mean? Well, Christ ‘dwells in our hearts’ when we let his example and teachings affect our feelings and actions.
11, 12. (a) How can we help others to have Christ ‘dwell in their hearts’? (b) In addition to learning about Jesus, what else is involved?
11 How can we help those we teach to have Christ ‘dwell in their hearts’? Imparting knowledge is vital, for they are to “grasp mentally” “the breadth and length and height and depth” of the truth of God’s Word, particularly as it relates to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. We want our students to acquire “the mind of Christ,” to know him thoroughly as a living, feeling person. (1 Corinthians 2:16) This will touch their hearts.
12 But notice that Paul also said: “And to know [Greek, gnonaiʹ, to know “practically, through experience”] the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge.” We can know Christ’s “love” by learning what the Bible tells us about his life course and the way he dealt with others. However, it is by imitating the kind of person Jesus is that we can genuinely appreciate his feelings. In this way, by experience, we come to know “the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge.”
13, 14. (a) How can we help our students to imitate Jesus’ qualities? (b) Why will trying to be like Jesus help our students to develop a good relationship with Jehovah? (c) In addition to the right foundation, to what else must we give attention?
13 So in laying the foundation, call attention to Jesus’ qualities—his love (John 15:13, 14), warmth and feeling (Matthew 11:28-30), humility (John 13:1-15) and compassion (Mark 6:30-34), to name a few. Encourage your student to imitate these qualities in his way of life. This will provide a fine foundation upon which to build other important qualities. At times, when discussing Bible accounts about Jesus, you may need to pause and ask: ‘What quality do you see Jesus displaying? How can you more fully display this quality in your life?’ Explain that imitating Jesus’ personality will help the Bible student to develop a strong, intimate relationship with Jehovah. How so? It is because Jesus so perfectly mirrored his Father’s personality that when we try to imitate Jesus we are actually imitating Jehovah himself!—John 14:9.
14 Having the right foundation is important, but is it enough? Paul answers: “But let each one keep watching how he is building on it.” Yes, what about the materials we use in erecting the structure that will rest on top of the foundation?
The Fire-Resistant Materials
15, 16. (a) At 1 Corinthians 3:12, what contrast is Paul evidently drawing? (b) Applying Paul’s illustration, what question is asked?
15 This brings us to verse 12 of 1 Corinthians chapter 3, where Paul discusses various building materials: “Now if anyone builds on the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood materials, hay, stubble.” That is quite a variety of contrasting materials! Is Paul suggesting that we build a little of each into our students? Apparently not. Notice how some other translations put it: “Some will use gold or silver or precious stones in building on the foundation; others will use wood or grass or straw.” (TEV) “On this foundation you can build in gold, silver and jewels, or in wood, grass and straw.” (The Jerusalem Bible) So evidently Paul is contrasting two types of buildings. On the one hand there is, as it were, a beautiful palace adorned with gold, silver and precious gems. In contrast there is a thatch-roofed hut made with wooden boards or posts supporting walls of dried grass mixed with mud.
16 Applying Paul’s illustration, then, the question is: In teaching others, are you building “palaces” or “huts”? The reason why some youths and newer ones fall away may be that not all are built with the same materials. What is the difference? The situation in the ancient congregation in Corinth illustrates the difference between building with fire-resistant materials and flammable ones.
17, 18. (a) What serious problem existed in the congregation in ancient Corinth, and how did Paul set matters straight? (b) So what is a key factor in determining whether we are building with “gold” or “hay”?
17 Paul had done his part in laying the proper foundation, but apparently some in Corinth were building upon it with ‘wood, hay and stubble’—flimsy materials representing qualities that are not durable. (1 Corinthians 3:12) Thus, Paul had to write to the brothers there: “Dissensions exist among you. What I mean is this, that each one of you says: ‘I belong to Paul,’ ‘But I to Apollos,’ ‘But I to Cephas,’ ‘But I to Christ.’ The Christ exists divided.” (1 Corinthians 1:11-13) So the members of the congregation were split into factions. And why? Because they attached too much importance to certain men. Paul set them straight, explaining: “What, then, is Apollos? Yes, what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers . . . I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept making it grow.”—1 Corinthians 3:5-7.
18 In short, the problem was this: Because they attached too much importance to following men, some members of the congregation in Corinth did not have a strong intimate relationship with Jehovah. This is a key factor in determining whether we are building with “gold” or “hay,” building “palaces” or “huts,” as it were.
19. (a) How might the one teaching inadvertently direct too much attention to himself or to another human? (b) If we want to build with ‘gold, silver and precious gems,’ what must we endeavor to do?
19 There is a valuable lesson to be learned from that. Some may say, ‘But I do not teach others to follow any man.’ However, this can easily happen even though we do not intend it. For example, if, when a student raises questions, we repeatedly say, ‘Brother (or Sister) So-and-so says, . . . ,’ might we inadvertently be directing too much attention to an imperfect man or woman? Or if, when questions are raised, we say, ‘Well, I’m not sure, but here is what I would say,’ might we unwittingly be attracting too much attention to ourselves? Remember, it is very easy for a student to develop an exalted opinion of his teacher. (Compare Acts 10:25, 26 and Revelation 19:10.) If we want to build “palaces,” we need to be on guard against building followers of men. Instead, we must help our students to develop a close relationship with Jehovah. To that end we must build with ‘gold, silver and precious gems.’ What do these represent?
20. What do the ‘gold, silver and precious stones’ represent? (Proverbs 3:13-15)
20 A comparison of such scriptures as Psalm 19:7-11, Proverbs 2:1-6 and 1 Peter 1:6, 7 shows that gold, silver and precious gems are at times used figuratively to represent qualities, such as strong faith, godly wisdom, spiritual discernment, loyalty, loving appreciation for Jehovah and his laws. Such qualities are essential to one’s having a strong intimate relationship with Jehovah God. These qualities make up the personality structure that we must endeavor to build in those we teach. Are you building in this way?
Will They Withstand the “Fire”?
21. (a) Why is it so important that we build durable qualities in those we teach? (b) What does the “fire” represent?
21 Why is it so important that we help to build such durable qualities in those we teach? The apostle Paul goes on to explain: “Each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will show it up, because it will be revealed by means of fire; and the fire itself will prove what sort of work each one’s is.” (1 Corinthians 3:13) So the “fire” will “prove” in just what way we are building. What does the “fire” here represent? Violent physical persecution? Evidently not. For notice that “each one’s work” will be subjected to the “fire.” Not all Christians receive violent persecution. So the “fire” represents any of the pressures or temptations that could destroy one’s spirituality.
22. What are some of the fiery tests that some may experience?
22 For some the “fire” may come in the form of the neutrality issue. For example, some may be pressured to participate in political activities or face imprisonment. (John 15:19) At times the “fire” may be more subtle. Perhaps it is the temptation to watch movies or TV programs that feature sex and violence. For Christian youths the “fire” may come in the form of exposure to sexual provocation, invitations to take drugs or the pressure to share in the world’s degraded entertainment. The natural desire to be accepted by others can exert tremendous pressure on Christian youths to conform.—1 John 2:16.
23. (a) With regard to facing such tests, what questions are raised, and upon what do the answers depend? (b) What will be discussed in the next article?
23 Most true Christians have successfully withstood such fiery tests. Sad to say, however, others have not. Hence, we need to ask ourselves: When the ones we have taught face the “fire,” how will they fare? Will they be like that beautiful palace adorned with fire-resistant gold, silver and precious stones, and stand firm? Or will they be like that hut made of wood, hay and stubble, and burn up? Of course, much depends upon the student himself. At the same time, though, much also depends upon us as teachers—how we ourselves have built. So this question remains: How do you build such durable qualities in those you teach? This will be discussed in the next article.
When You Teach, Reach the Heart
1, 2. (a) What does it take to build in others a deep appreciation for Jehovah and his standards? (b) Why is more than head knowledge needed?
WHEREAS you can make quick work of putting up a hut, you certainly cannot build a palace overnight. The same is true of making disciples. It is no small task to build in others a deep appreciation for Jehovah and his standards. It takes considerable time and skill to produce such “palaces.”
2 To accomplish this, more is involved than imparting knowledge. As Proverbs 3:1 says: “My son, my law do not forget, and my commandments may your heart observe.” Our students must be taught what the Bible says. But more than that, Bible truth must be impressed upon their hearts. Yes, it is the heart that we must reach if we are to build fire-resistant qualities into those we teach, helping them to develop a strong relationship with Jehovah God.
3. (a) Why does the “art of teaching” have much to do with whether we reach the heart? (b) As we consider some practical suggestions, whom should you have in mind?
3 Clearly, this is easier said than done. To reach hearts we must not only have the right building materials but also employ the “art of teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2) It is not enough to tell the truth to our students. Rather, the “art of teaching” involves helping them to think and to reason on what they learn. It is not that our ingenuity or methods can produce spiritual growth; it is God’s blessing that counts. (1 Corinthians 3:5, 6) Nevertheless, there are a few suggestions that can help us to reach the hearts of others. As we consider these points, have in mind those whom you teach—your Bible students and your children.
Set the Right Example
4. (a) What is one thing that made Jesus effective in reaching others? (b) Why is it important to set the right example when teaching others?
4 What better example could we have of how to reach the hearts of others than Jesus Christ himself? Why was he so effective in reaching people? For one thing, Jesus practiced what he preached, providing a sterling example for his followers to imitate. (John 13:15; 1 Peter 2:21) This, then, is the first suggestion: set the right example. Is it not logical that we should have the same durable Christian qualities that we wish to build in others? As Jesus put it: “Every well-trained student will be like his teacher.”—Luke 6:40, The New Berkeley Version.
5. How do the Scriptures show the connection between setting the right example and reaching the hearts of others?
5 The Bible repeatedly shows the connection between setting the right example and reaching the hearts of others. For instance, Deuteronomy 6:4-6 indicates that love for Jehovah must “be on your [the parent’s] heart” before you can inculcate it into the hearts of your children. (Proverbs 20:7) In contrast, Jesus rebuked the hypocritical Pharisees of his day because they ‘said but did not perform.’ Is it any wonder that the heart of the people had grown “unreceptive”?—Matthew 23:3; 13:13-15.
6. Why is it important for you to live in accord with what you teach? (Romans 2:21-23)
6 So there must be harmony between what you teach and what you practice. For example, if you wish to build in your students or children a love for Jehovah and a desire to please him, then should they not be able to see by your prayers, speech and actions evidence of such love and desire in you? If you want to instill a strong devotion to Bible principles, should they not first see that you, by your words and deeds, do not try to sidestep those principles? Those we teach, particularly our children, often pay more attention to what we do than to what we say. When others see that we live in accord with what we teach, we will be in a better position to reach their hearts.
7, 8. (a) Upon what does much of our success in reaching others depend? (b) Why are questions helpful in reaching the heart?
7 A second suggestion, something else that made Jesus such an effective teacher, is the use of questions. Jesus was a master at getting people to think and reason. (Matthew 17:24-27) Much of your success in reaching the hearts of those you teach depends upon your use of questions. Why?
8 First, by asking questions you can determine whether your student really is understanding what he is learning. After all, if he does not understand and accept the information, how can it possibly take root in his heart? (Luke 8:15) Second, to reach the heart it is helpful to know what is in the heart. Preconceived ideas and false religious teachings may be strongly entrenched. Since we cannot read the heart, we need to ask questions that particularly get the student to express in his own words what he feels in his heart. Consider some examples.
9, 10. Illustrate the effective use of viewpoint questions.
9 Let us suppose that you are discussing chapter 10, “Wicked Spirits Are Powerful,” in the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth. You come to paragraph 18, on page 97, where the printed question asks, “What example of the early Christians at Ephesus is a good one to follow if a person wants to break free from spiritism?” Your student may answer correctly from the paragraph, but how does he really feel? Perhaps he practiced spiritism for many years and became a strong believer in it. If so, is he now convinced that he should break free from it? You might have to ask: ‘How do you feel about this? How can you apply this information in your life?’ The way he now answers may reveal to what extent the information has touched his heart.
10 To take another example, you might be considering with your child chapter 26, “The Fight to Do What Is Right,” in the same book. On page 220, the “b” question for paragraph 8 asks, “What viewpoint, as expressed by a youth, would we be wise to have?” Your child may at first answer from the paragraph, not really expressing how he feels. You may need gently to probe a little deeper: ‘But how do you feel about this? Does this viewpoint seem reasonable to you?’ Or you might pose a situation: ‘Suppose some youths at school were smoking and offered you a cigarette? What if quite a number of others were watching and started making fun of you because you did not accept? What would you do?’ When used discreetly, such questions can help you to determine what is in your child’s heart.
11. (a) Why is caution needed when using questions? (b) Why do parents especially need to be cautious when their children express wrong views? (Colossians 3:21)
11 A word of caution, though. At times such questions may bring answers that surprise or disappoint you. What then? If it is a sensitive subject, it may be better not to force the issue but to say: ‘Let’s go on for now. We’ll talk about this again sometime.’ (John 16:12) Especially is such caution needed on the part of the parents. When wrong views are expressed, hold your emotions in check. You do not want to damage the line of communication. If your child becomes afraid to express how he feels, how will you know what is in his heart so that you can help him?
Highlight the Wisdom of Obeying God’s Laws
12, 13. (a) Why will seeing the wisdom of obeying God’s laws touch your student’s heart? (b) What is involved in helping a student to see that obeying Jehovah is the course of wisdom?
12 A third suggestion is to help your student to see the wisdom of obeying God’s laws. (Deuteronomy 4:5, 6; 10:12, 13) This can touch his heart. How so? Well, if he is convinced that keeping Jehovah’s laws is in his own best interests, this may move him to love God and want to please him.—Psalm 112:1.
13 How can you help those you teach to see the wisdom of obeying God’s laws? We might illustrate this by comparing Jehovah’s laws to “No Trespassing” signs. While such a sign is in itself a warning, would you not agree that when the sign contains the reason for the warning obedience comes more readily? For example, if the sign says “No Trespassing—High Voltage,” then the would-be trespasser, recognizing the possibility of personal danger, is more inclined to heed the warning.
14. (a) In what way could you reason with your student to help him to see why a particular course is wise or foolish? (b) What scriptures illustrate the importance of giving the reason why a course is good or bad?
14 It is similar with God’s laws. Do not simply tell your student what the Bible says is right and what is wrong; help him to see why a particular course is wise or foolish. Reason with him on how obedience to God’s laws will benefit him. Help him to see the consequences of disregarding those requirements. The Bible itself does this at times. Read for yourself, please, Proverbs 22:24, 25; 23:4, 5; 24:15, 16, 19, 20. Notice that in each case the Bible gives the reason why a course is good or bad.
15. Use the questions and scriptures provided to discuss the wisdom of obeying what God says about dishonesty and fornication.
15 To illustrate, consider how the following questions and scriptures emphasize the wisdom of obeying God’s laws.
Fornication: How may immorality hurt us? (Proverbs 5:9; 7:21-23; 1 Corinthians 6:18) How may it have a harmful effect upon others? (1 Thessalonians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 5:6; Hebrews 12:15, 16) How do you benefit when you heed the Bible’s moral standards? (Proverbs 5:18, 19; Hebrews 13:4)
After reasoning in this way on a Bible law, you might ask: ‘Do you feel that Jehovah has our best interests at heart? Do you agree that his laws really do not deprive us of anything good?’
16. What effect may reasoning in this way have upon your student?
16 During the course of the study, reason similarly on God’s law regarding drunkenness, the paying of taxes, smoking, the blood issue, and so forth. In this way your student or child is helped to see that all of God’s laws are for our good. It is not that your student should always need reasons to obey God. But a few examples may help to reach his heart, moving him to want to please God. Thus, when the “fire,” or test, comes, he will more readily obey God’s word.—1 Corinthians 3:13.
Help Them to Know God
17. What additional suggestion can help you to reach the heart of your student?
17 A fourth suggestion is this: help your student to know God. (John 17:3) More than just helping him to know that Jehovah exists and has a name, help your student to come to know him intimately. This will touch his heart because to know Jehovah is to love him.
18. During the study, how could you draw attention to Jehovah’s qualities?
18 How can you help your student to know Jehovah intimately? For one thing, you cannot love someone unless you know his qualities, his ways. So during the study, be ever mindful of drawing attention to Jehovah’s matchless qualities. This often can be done regardless of the subject being considered. For example, when discussing the ransom, you could pause at an appropriate point and ask: ‘How does the ransom provision magnify the depth of Jehovah’s love for us?’ Or when considering God’s permission of wickedness, you could ask: ‘How has Jehovah shown great long-suffering in the face of man’s wickedness?’ or, ‘How did Jehovah display matchless wisdom in the way he handled the rebellion in Eden?’ Reasoning in this way will help to build in your student a strong feeling of devotion to Jehovah. He will come to view Jehovah as a Person whose qualities he finds endearing, inviting.
19, 20. (a) What else is needed in order to know Jehovah intimately? (b) How does the experience in the paragraph illustrate the importance of setting the right example when it comes to prayer?
19 In addition, you cannot really get to know someone well without some kind of communication. Similarly, your student cannot enjoy an intimate relationship with Jehovah without communicating with him. Appreciating this, teach your student how to pray. Help him to see the wide variety of matters that are proper subjects for prayer. (1 John 5:14) Build in him appreciation for Jehovah as One who both hears and answers prayers. (Psalm 65:2) Encourage him to express his innermost feelings, ‘pouring out his heart’ to Jehovah.—Psalm 62:8.
20 Here again, your own example is important. Do your prayers reflect the depth of your devotion to God? This can have a very wholesome effect on those you teach, including your children. Consider the following experience.
Some years ago, one Christian couple were teaching their three-year-old boy how to pray. One night, after praying for Jehovah to bless Mommy and Daddy, the boy asked Jehovah to bless “Wally.” Who was “Wally”? His parents did not know, and the boy began praying for “Wally” quite regularly! Finally, after much wonderment, they realized what had happened. The boy was praying for the brothers in Malawi (who at the time were experiencing persecution), but he mispronounced it as “Wally.” The point is, the little boy had heard his parents praying in this way, and he imitated their fine example. Just imagine how those parents felt!
Does this not illustrate the importance of setting the right example when it comes to teaching others how to pray?
21. (a) According to 1 Corinthians 3:14, 15, for what may you as a Christian builder hope? (b) Is the “reward” the prize of eternal life in God’s New Order? Explain.
21 So, then, if we are to build in others fire-resistant qualities, helping them to develop a good relationship with Jehovah, we must reach their hearts. It may not be easy to do, but it is rewarding. Paul indicated this when he said: “If anyone’s work that he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward; if anyone’s work is burned up [because he built poorly, not using fire-resistant materials], he will suffer loss [that is, what he built will be lost to the “fire”], but he himself will be saved; yet, if so, it will be as through fire.” What is the “reward”? Evidently Paul had in mind something other than the prize of eternal life in God’s New Order, for notice that the one who built poorly loses the “reward,” though he himself may be saved if he makes it through the “fire.”—1 Corinthians 3:14, 15.
22, 23. (a) What reward did the apostle Paul receive in connection with his Christian brothers at Thessalonica? (b) What “reward” is your heart’s desire, and how may you receive it?
22 What, then, is this “reward”? Something Paul said to the Thessalonians sheds light on this. To the persecuted Christians there, Paul wrote: “What is our hope or joy or crown of exultation—why, is it not in fact you?—before our Lord Jesus at his presence? You certainly are our glory and joy [“our pride and our joy!” Today’s English Version].” (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20) Paul had aided those Thessalonians into the way of truth. And although from the beginning they had experienced persecution, they were standing firm. Paul’s reward was the joy of seeing them endure in the face of opposition. This testified that Paul had built well.
23 It is similar with us. Is it not your heart’s desire to help those you teach to develop the durable Christian qualities that will enable them to stand firm in the face of the temptations and pressures that may come upon them? Yes, how rewarding it is to see your Bible students and your children withstanding such fiery tests! This testifies that you have built well. May that be your reward as you build on a right foundation with fire-resistant materials and as you look to Jehovah to bless your efforts.