For the first 31 years of my life, I was a cultural Christian. A product of Christian schools, church every Sunday and a Sunday School teacher. I believed every word of the Bible to be true. Of course I was saved! My sins would all be forgiven and after death I’d live with Jesus, the angels and the rest of the believers, forever! Doing what? I didn’t know. I wrote this in The 10 Second Rule regarding my thoughtless and careless attitude about heaven.
I just didn’t see the point of being overly obedient or spiritual. I didn’t need box seats in heaven – after all, how bad can the bleachers be? I was in!
Not only was I in, but I gave absolutely no thought to the heavenly consequences of my choices on earth. I had no idea that Christians are actually auditioning in this life, for how they will live for all eternity. I do not believe Christians are saved by their good deeds or efforts on earth. So, let’s just get that out of the way if you were thinking that’s where I was heading.
However, God is testing each one of us to see what we are doing with whatever he’s given us in this life. Read this teaching from Jesus.
He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return. So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
“But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
“He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
“The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
“‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
“The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
“His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
“Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth. I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
“His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
“Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
“‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
“He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” Luke 19: 12-26
What kind of rewards? In my pre, Christ-as-Lord days, I thought these rewards were largely for sin management. The people who sinned the least were rewarded with more. More what, I didn’t know. But I knew sinning was a bad thing. And there is good biblical evidence that sinning less somehow, does fit into the rewards equation.
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10
The Bible doesn’t describe the exact nature of the rewards the more faithful will receive. But in dozens of places in scripture, God declares that he will reward believers in heaven for how we lived on earth. Just Google, Rewards in heaven for Christians.
So, what are the implications today in your life and mine, if all this is true? Here’s the wrong answer; work like mad doing good things so selfishly you will get a greater reward.
Here’s what I believe the Bible teaches. Every natural and spiritual gift, every dollar, every day, the sum total of our life’s experiences have been given to us for one purpose only – to make life better for others on earth so that God gets the glory.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
We are Jesus surrogates – his stand-ins here on earth and he’s watching how well we represent him. “In as much as you do this to the least of these, you do it unto me, “ isn’t just a metaphor. It’s a spiritual reality! What we do selflessly for others is credited to us. However, the reverse is equally true. Whatever we waste on ourselves or withhold from others who need our time and money more, is a sin. Whatever we freely give to others and for others is credited to us. God is keeping track of how we are living out the mission he’s assigned to us.
God is watching today how we are using our whole life for his glory. We are auditioning for the eternal play to come. Someday each of us will find out exactly what God thought of us and what part will play in the kingdom to come. Are you confident you’ll hear the great, well done? Will you get “10 cities, 5 cities,” or none? Even if we didn’t care – God does!
How following Jesus works in real life.
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