on Christ and following Him can be costly, but God promises to reward many
times over those who have made such a sacrifice. Jesus said,
"Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or
mother or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will
inherit eternal life." Still, while we live here on earth, we suffer.
We share in Christ’s sufferings. Jesus knows what we are feeling.
"He came unto his own and his own received him not" (John
1:12). I have heard testimonies from Muslim young people who have invited
Christ to come into their lives. When they went home and shared that news
with their parents, they were asked to leave and disowned. Some of their
friends heard of their conversion and tried to kill them.
Is such suffering worth it? At the Judgment Seat of
Christ, our Lord promises such people will be rewarded a hundred times
more than anything they have given up and their rewards and honors will
last for all eternity.
There is another kind of behavior that will bring reward
at the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is service to Christ from your heart.
Colossians 3:23-25 tells us: "Whatever you do, work at it with all
your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men; since you know
that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the
Lord Christ you are serving." That first line—look at it.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart." Some
of us do serve in church; we do teach a class; we do
preach sermons; we do conduct Bible studies. We do work in
the Boys or Girls Club. And that’s good. But at the Judgment Seat of
Christ, it won’t be just our outward actions that will be judged but
also the inner motives and attitudes of our heart. These are things that
no one else can see. The Bible says, "Each man’s work will become
evident" (1 Cor. 3:13). Why? Because the fire of Christ’s judgment
"will test the quality of each man’s work."
Unfortunately, there are those in the Church who serve
for self-esteem, for pride, for popularity, for financial gain. Now,
it’s probably not the only reason they serve, but it must not be the
primary reason. The question all of us need to ask is, Are we wholly
serving Jesus Christ from our heart?
Now, all of us are complicated and complex people. Have
you ever wondered if you really did anything totally for Jesus
Christ—anything that is not tainted with some ulterior motive? I have.
Think of pastors. Wouldn’t you agree that no one wants to preach and do
a bad job? No one deliberately wants to make people dislike them. And
further, pastors have to make a living by preaching, don’t they? Should
they think about their paycheck? Are such considerations wrong? No. It’s
just that they shouldn’t be the primary reason why we preach. Those
other considerations shouldn’t affect the message God has given us to
preach. Well, here is a question. When we serve Christ, how can any of us
know that God will accept our service when it is tainted with some portion
of these worldly thoughts?
Erwin Lutzer, in his book Your Eternal Reward, says,
"Christ takes our acts done with good intentions and cleanses them so
they might be acceptable to God." The Apostle Peter wrote,
"You... are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy
priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through
Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 2:5).
In other words, if our deeds are presented to the Father
through Christ, if our intentions were primarily good, Christ cleanses
them and makes them acceptable. There is another side to all of this. Some
of you have worked on projects which eventually failed. If the primary
reason you began that work was because you thought it the best way to
serve the Lord, your effort will still be rewarded even though the project
wasn’t successful. At the same time, let’s say you worked on a project
and it was successful. But you did it for other reasons than serving
Christ. Jesus says, "Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness
before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from
your Father in heaven" (Matt. 6:1).
In Mark 12 we have a beautiful illustration of someone
who did something from her heart. It certainly was not seen by those in
the world—even Christians—as being something big or successful. But in
the eyes of God she was a success. She had served God from her heart. We
are told, "Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were
put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury.
Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in
two very small copper coins worth only a fraction of a penny. Calling his
disciples to him, Jesus said, ‘I tell you the truth, this poor widow has
put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their
wealth but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to
live on."’ (Mk. 12:41-44, NIV).
In other words, this poor widow was unaware that Christ
was watching. But He was. And because she gave from her whole heart, she
was said to have given more to God than all the others. Do you realize
that Christ is watching you—and He can see your heart? Christ is going
to reward us at His Judgment Seat according to the attitudes, desires, and
motives in our heart. Right now, can you say that you are serving Christ
with your whole heart?
Let me give you an illustration that Erwin Lutzer shared
with us on one of our programs. It is a legend from India and goes
something like this. A beggar saw a wealthy Rajah riding in a beautiful
chariot. As the beggar was standing along the side of the road, he held
out his bowl of rice, hoping for a handout. To his surprise, the Rajah
stopped. But before the beggar could ask anything, the Rajah said,
"Give me some of your rice." The beggar was angry at this turn
of events, but he gingerly gave the Rajah one grain of rice out of his
small, dirty bowl. After he did, the Rajah said, "Give me more of
your rice." And the beggar grudgingly gave him one more grain of
rice. The Rajah demanded, "More!" At this point the
beggar was seething with resentment. Stingily he gave the Rajah one more
grain of rice, and suddenly the Rajah was gone. The beggar watched him
travel down the road and was about to at him in anger when he saw
something glitter in his bowl. He looked down and discovered it was a
grain of gold, the size of a grain of rice. He looked more carefully and
found just two more grains of gold. For every grain of rice he had given
to the Rajah, there was a grain of gold given him in return.
Listen, if we clutch our bowl of rice, we shall lose our
reward. If we are faithful and give God each grain that He requests,
someday He will give us gold in return—and the gold God gives
will survive the fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Right now, you have the chance to voluntarily serve the
Lord. Many biblical promises say it will someday be worth it, and your
reward will last for all eternity. Are you living with the end in mind? If
not, confess that to the Lord and begin today.