The idea of review and reward is not foreign to Scripture. The apostle Paul lived with this in view and urged others to do likewise.
“Therefore, we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
The Christian’s resolve – “we make it our aim to please Him”.
Whatever resolutions a Christian could make, there is one chief goal that must overarch all other goals: ‘to please the Lord’.
We are not seeking to earn His salvation, love, or acceptance but, out of our gratitude for all that He is, has done, is doing and will do, we seek to please Him.
One great example of this resolve is seen in the life of the 18th century preacher, Jonathan Edwards. At the age of twenty, Edwards wrote 70 resolutions. He was resolved to live a life pleasing to the Lord. The first resolution contains these words, “Resolved, that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to the glory of God . . .”. He beautifully summarised what the resolve of every believer should be.
So, what is well pleasing to God?
I would like to give some biblical guidance.
- A sacrificial life – “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1b). Our bodies must be used, in all their fullness, to serve God, and serving others is one way by which we can serve Him.
- A transformed mind that understands His will – “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2b). We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, which means that we should think the way God thinks, as revealed in the Bible. So, your Bible reading time is not the end goal but the means to an end of knowing, enjoying and pleasing Him.
- Holy living – “finding out what is acceptable to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:10). Once we know God’s will, as revealed in Scripture, then we can live a life that is pleasing to the Lord.
My transformed mind will inform me how to think and act in every area of life. Do my actions please Him?
Ultimately, our goal should align with His goal for us: Christlikeness.
What is the motivation for this goal?
The Christian’s review – “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ”.
It is extremely important to know that this "judgment seat" is not the Great White Throne from which Christ will judge the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15). Due to His substitutionary work on the cross, believers will not face any condemnation (Romans 8:1), as every sin of every believer was judged at the cross, when God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
When Paul writes “we must all”, he is writing to believers, and he is emphasising the certainty of each believer appearing at this judgement seat, without any exceptions. Every believer will have an individual assessment of their service for Christ. As someone has said, “we go to the judgement seat in single file”, and the idea is not just that we will happen to be there, but that everything about us will be revealed.
On earth, it is relatively easy for us to hide things and pretend, but the true character of our works will be exposed before the Saviour. The character of our service will be revealed (1 Corinthians 3:13) as well as the motives that drove us (1 Corinthians 4:5). It is one thing to appear in a doctor’s office and quite another to be X-rayed by him.
Some people have experienced an unfair annual review but here there will be a true and perfect verdict on our service for Him, resulting in rewards for all faithful service.
The Christian’s reward – “so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil”.
There are number of parables, told by our Lord Jesus, that speak of future reward. The parables of the minas (Luke 19:11-27) and the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) offer insight into our Lord’s righteous judgement.
The Bible teaches that each believer has been given differing ability and gift, but the parable of the minas teaches that where there is equal gift but unequal effort there will be differing rewards. On the other hand, the parable of the talents tells us that where there is unequal gift but equal effort, the rewards will be similar.
Christ’s judgement and the reward bestowed will be according to the use we made of all that had been graciously given to us. The Lord will graciously reward His people for all that has been done “in the body” for Him.
Now is the time for the believer to prepare for the review. Our whole life on earth is preparation for the coming judgement seat of Christ. The great missionary C.T. Studd famously said, “Only one life, 'twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
The Lord Jesus has given us details of this future event as a motivation to serve Him in a manner that will please Him and, ultimately, bring rewards for us.
Photo credit: Markus Winkler