I think about Judgment Day. I know that sounds a bit morbid or depressing, but there is an aspect of it that I have been looking forward to for years. Recently, Joni Eareckson Tada added an additional positive perspective I had not thought of yet, so I thought I would blog about our combined list. There are encouraging elements to ponder about this notoriously dreaded day.
Put very simply, this is not the day God pulls out a gargantuan scale so He can weigh what is good about our lives to see if it outweighs the bad in order to make a decision about our salvation. No, our salvation rests in Christ alone and nothing can change that. Using me as an example, after my faith in Christ is confirmed as a “yes!”, then the quality of my relationship with Christ is tested with fire. This second part is when God sorts out with perfect accuracy what actions were done for Him versus done for me…what was done with a pure heart versus a self-centered heart…what was done in His strength versus my own strength. The bad stuff will burn away. The good stuff will remain. I, like all Christ followers, will be rewarded for the elements that survive the test of fire and those rewards will thankfully last for eternity.*
I often ponder this verse:
Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw–each man’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 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. (I Corinthians 3:10-15)
What I hear often are statements like, “I am going to be so embarrassed!” or “Everyone is going to see all that I have done!”
Yes, it is true. Everyone will see it all.
I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak… (Matthew 12:36, 37)
My giant pile of ugly thoughts, my careless words and tones, my ugly behavior, my unsavory motives, and my horrible thought life will be piled up much like my husband prepares for a bonfire. Everything he finds in the yard that is burnable gets dragged to the fire pit, then the match is lit.
…but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. (I Peter 4:5)
I have two consistent thoughts about such a scene where all of us are gathered and I imagine myself standing in front of my own burning pile while other piles are burning in my peripheral vision:
1. I do not believe I am going to be looking at anyone else’s pile in horror while thinking judgmental thoughts and comparing my pile to their pile. This is what I hear others saying, but I am guessing that in the presence of a holy God, all of us will evaluate our burnable pile of worthless deeds as ugly and decrepit in comparison with His perfection. We aren’t going to be thinking about which one of us is most decrepit.
2. I can’t wait to watch it burn. I have hated my sinful nature. I hate the daily struggle still able to produce knee-jerk reactions (which just occurred toward my son 5 minutes ago while editing this post), apologizing for my thoughtless tongue (which just occurred toward my son three minutes ago while editing this post), laying in bed at night and hearing my sharp tones replaying in my head. I hate the list of regrets I have accumulated because of my sinful behavior and ensuing consequences of each of those decisions that I live with every day. Yes, I am forgiven for all I have confessed and yes, I have repented of a giant pile of messy behaviors and attitudes. However, I want to watch them to disappear before my very eyes in flames….to not even exist anymore as part of my history or memory. Perhaps all of us will be mesmerized by our own fire pit of sin and become enamored with the cleansing process of watching it all disintegrate forever. We won’t be looking around.
You see, this day marks the end of the sinful nature we contend with every day…all day long. I am looking forward to living forever doing whatever I feel like because my heart will be pure. I won’t hurt anyone again with my sin. I won’t have to exert a shred of effort trying to prevent myself from hurting another person ever again…even in the smallest way.
As I have explained, I have had this view of Judgment Day for years but Joni recently gave me an additional insight.
3. God hasn’t missed one good thing.
I recently read a Joni and Friends Daily Devotional featuring Hebrews 4:13: Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Like I often hear, Joni had a friend that was also expressing fear about the day on which we must all give account. In that devotional, Joni challenged readers to “think of the flip side of Hebrews 4:13. God’s eyes don’t miss the good you do, either. The times you hold your tongue… the times you patiently endure suffering, leaning on Jesus… the times you hold up under pressure with a godly response…the times you give, secretly, with no thought of return… the times you offer an encouraging word when you are bone-tired–all is laid bare before His searching gaze.” (I cannot find the exact day I read this exact devotional entry, but I found it here too.)
Reading those words that day completely encouraged me. God has not missed one thing I have done in His strength, for His name…in secret, un-praised, unseen by all except Him. There is such a pile. I have done things for Him and not one item is missing. It will all be there to be seen when the last flame erases my last bad thing. A pile will remain, the one that will be rewarded. All the yet unacknowledged efforts I did with a pure heart…the same goes for all of His children…every last bit of it will be acknowledged, every last bit will be seen.
Every huge sinful thing we have done or said will disappear…and every itty-bitty thing too.
Gone. Eradicated. Erased. Extinct. Over.
Can no longer be found…not searched out or dug up…cannot be conjured up in any way again even as a finger-pointing accusation.
Every huge thing we have done or said with a pure heart will remain…and every itty-bitty thing too.
Seen. Acknowledged. Valued. Remembered. Rewarded.
Can never be lost, hidden or thrown away…
somehow hinged to us for eternity as a forever witness to the truth that our obedience to God is never, ever, ever wasted.
Not one inkling of obedience.
Both sides of the story are good news…at least to me.
* Interested in more? This post was about expressing my heart, not leading people in a study of the Judgment Day. For more scholarly information, see sources like The Holman Bible Dictionary and the Bible itself.
Excerpt from The Holman Bible Dictionary: In the great white throne judgment scene (Revelation 20:11-15 ), the basis of judgment is first from the book of life (Revelation 20:12 ,Revelation 20:12,20:15 ) and then from the books of works (Revelation 20:12-14 ). One’s relationship with Christ is that determiner of eternal destiny (John 3:36 ), but one’s faithfulness to Christ is crucial to a genuine relationship with Christ (James 2:14-26; Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 2:3-6 ).
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