All of us want to live a life of significance. And the only way to assure that is live each day with eternity in view. This life is preparation for roles and responsibilities we will assume in the next life when we will have the opportunity to reign with Christ in the coming Kingdom of God. Every Christian will be in the kingdom, but not every Christian will reign with Christ there. It is our faithfulness here and now that will determine our responsibility there and then. To cultivate an eternal perspective, we must recognize the brevity of life here on earth (Psalm 39:4, Psalm 90). Wise living is tied to an understanding that this life is brief, and should be lived with eternity in view (James 4:13-15).
The Bible clearly teaches that Christians will face a future judgment for service, but not for sin. Jesus was judged at the cross for your sin, so that you will not have to bear sin’s penalty (John 3:18). Some people have concluded, “Well, if God isn’t going to judge me for my sin, what motivation do I have to live a God-pleasing life? Sin brings its own penalty (Galatians 6:7). You reap what you sow. Obedience brings its own rewards: fellowship with God (John 15:14), God’s blessing (James 1:25), and the following eternal rewards:
Scripture Reference / Eternal Reward
2 Timothy 4:8 / Crown of Righteousness
James 1:12 / Crown of Life
1 Peter 5:4 / Crown of Glory
Revelation 3:11 / unspecified crown
Luke 19:11-27 / Authority Over Cities
Revelation 2:26-29 / Authority Over Nations
Revelation 3:21 / Reign with Christ in the Kingdom
Christians will be judged for our faithful service rendered here on earth (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 2 Corinthians 5:9-11). Although all believers will get into heaven, our reward will not be the same. In the next life, there will be distinctions among believers based upon their relative faithfulness here on earth. This evaluation of our faithfulness will take place at what the Scriptures refer to as the Judgment Seat of Christ. The purpose of this divine evaluation is not to determine your eternal destiny. That was settled when you placed your faith in Christ. Its purpose is to determine your fitness for reward. At the Judgment Seat of Christ no one will be beaten or flogged. But many will experience a great sense of loss. There will be regrets for a life wasted or a myriad of opportunities missed. We need to conduct ourselves today with that future judgment in mind.
What are some of the things God will consider at the Judgment Seat of Christ? God will evaluate what we attempt to do for Him. This includes how we treat others (Matthew 10:42; Luke 6:35-36; Hebrews 6:10), how we use and respond to authority (Hebrews 13:17; James 3:1), how we use our God given talents (1 Peter 4:10), how we use our time (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 4:5), how we conduct our work (Colossians 3:23-24), how we use our money (Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 12:16-34; Luke 16:1-15; 1 Timothy 6:17-19), how we care for the souls of men (Matthew 28:18-20; Proverbs 11:30; Acts 20:17- 27; 2 Corinthians 5:9, 11, 20), how we respond to suffering (1 Peter 2:19-25; Matthew 5:11, 12; Luke 6:22, 23; Mark 10:29, 30), and how well we anticipate Christ’s return (2 Timothy 4:8). God will not simply judge our actions; he will also look at our motives which prompted those actions (1 Corinthians 4:5). God looks beyond what we do. He seems to be just as interested in why we do what we do (Matthew 6:2, 6:5, 6:16).
If we are to live wisely in God’s world, we must cultivate an eternal perspective. Because, after all, we are in training for reigning. One day, we will stand before God at the Judgement Seat of Christ and our service will be judged and rewarded. That knowledge should influence how we live.
Application / Challenge
- Determine to live today with eternity in view.
- When facing decisions, learn to ask these questions: When viewed through the clarifying lens of the Bible, what do I believe to be the wise, God honoring thing to do? Is my chief motive to please God and advance his desires, or to please me and advance my desires? Knowing that one day I will give an account of my life to God, what is the wise thing to do?
- In what area(s) do you most need to give attention to your level of faithfulness? How exactly do you plan to address this deficiency?