For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Corinthians 5:10
When Paul was kept in custody in Acts 24:24-25, we find that he spoke to Felix the governor about “righteousness, self-control and the coming judgment.” That makes me stop and think about whether those three topics would be the ones I would pick to present and to debate like Paul did. His emphasis on the coming judgment is a part of our forward thinking, living our lives with eternity in mind, not just with the “live for today” attitude that is all around us.
One of the final scenes of “Schindler’s List” sticks with me. It is where Oskar Schindler stood and addressed the Jewish factory workers and the Nazi guards. He had spent his own money to save Jews by hiring them to work in his factory to keep them from being gassed. He looked down at the gold buttons on his jacket and began pulling them off, realizing that he could have used the gold to purchase more Jews. He says “I could have saved more, I could have saved more,” as he dropped to his knees realizing his selfishness in having gold buttons. He had already saved over 800 souls. One day we will all stand before Jesus to give an account of what we have done. I don’t want to then realize, “I could have done more, I could have done more.”
Paul was careful to include the judgment in his presentation of the Gospel. He told the people in Athens about it in Acts 17:31, “God has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed (Jesus).” We do what we do for God out of obedience, but also with an eye to what it will be like when our lives are over. Hebrews 9:27 reads, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
1 Corinthians 3:13-15 talks about this as well. “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.”
One disclaimer: What Jesus did was enough for us. We don’t have to earn a spot in Heaven by doing more. What we do is in response to God’s grace, not to earn it. But what we do matters. Pray and ask God to show you that balance in your life.
Here’s a quote from C.T. Studd that I learned as a kid and has rung in my heart every since then: “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” When our lives are done, it’s too late to start obeying God and spending time on eternal things. It’s kind of like saving for retirement a month before you retire. You won’t have much to live on. I want to look back and see the lives that I have saved for eternity because I told them about Jesus. I will give an account for what I’ve done with I’ve been given, and so will you. Spend your time investing in eternal things, not wasting them on things that don’t matter. You will want to hear the words from Jesus, “Well done thou good and faithful servant.”