Living for Jesus/Part 2
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg; ©2001|
|Believing on Christ and following Him can be costly, but God promises to reward those who have made such a sacrifice. Dr. Ankerberg concludes his series on the behaviors God promises to reward.|
Living For Jesus—Part Two
Believing 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.