Consider your legacy. If you were to die today, what would you be remembered for? Do you like the answers to this question, or do you wish for a change? Paul tells us, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:9–10). Paul says that in light of eternity, we are to make it our aim to please the Lord. There is a difference between being loved and being pleasing to Him. We are loved with a love that is passionate and overwhelming because of Jesus, but we are in charge of how pleasing our lives are to Him.
This is why Paul exhorts the church to live in such a way that brings pleasure to the heart of God.
Every one of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. If we have a relationship with Jesus, we will not be examined for our sins because of the blood of Jesus, however we will be examined on how we lived our lives. The Greek word for judgment is crema, which means “a decision resulting from an investigation.” Every deed we have done, word we have spoken, thought, and our motive will come under investigation.
The Lord is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). He loves to reward his children even more than an earthly father would. The truth is that what we do with the cross determines where we are going to spend eternity, and the way we live as believers determines how we are going to spend eternity. If you were told that the way you live in the next 24 hours will determine your existence for the next 10 years of your life, would you take the next 24 hours seriously? What we do with this “mist” of time is going to determine how we spend eternity.
John the Beloved tells us to, “Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for but may win a full reward” (2 John 8). John is telling us to pay careful attention and be ever watchful that we live in such a way to receive the full reward. This means that it is possible to lose our reward or receive no or partial reward. It is the Lord’s desire to give us the full reward, but we must be so in tune with His love for us that we would live in such a way to receive it.
At the judgment seat, we are going to be examined in two major areas
- Our involvement in building the kingdom of God.
- How we used our influence to build into individual lives.
Building the Kingdom of God
Much of our involvement in building the kingdom of God has to do with stewarding the resources we have been entrusted. Stewardship means we are utilizing and managing all resources God provides for the glory of God and the betterment of His creation. In the Parable of Talents, the master gives 1 talent, 2 talents, and 5 talents to three different people. Each person is given a certain number of talents to steward and invest. These talents are not just a sum of money, but represent the gifts that God places in our lives.
Every single believer has spiritual gifts. Paul says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them” (Romans 12:6). Happy is the man or woman who knows their gifts and lives in them. Miserable is the one who tries to live in another person’s gift or are selfishly maintaining them. The two that were entrusted 2 and 5 talents chose to invest them and make a profit for their master. His response to their investment was, “Well done, good and faithful servant” and gifting them with more to manage. This means that Jesus’ expectation is multiplication. Jesus expects us to be faithfully put our spiritual gifts to work for the kingdom. The one that maintained what was given to him was called a wicket and lazy servant (Matthew 25:26). God sees multiplication as faithful and maintenance as wicked and lazy.
Do we invest what the Lord has entrusted to us? Are we putting our spiritual gifts to work to build the kingdom? The great violinist, Nicolo Paganini, willed his marvelous violin to the city of his birth, but only on condition that the instrument never be played. It was an unfortunate condition because as long as wood is used and handled, it shows little wear. However, as soon as it is discarded it begins to decay. The exquisite, mellow-toned violin has become worm-eaten in its beautiful case, valueless except as a relic. The moldering instrument is a reminder that a life withdrawn from putting our spiritual gifts to work loses its meaning.
Thoughts on Spiritual Gifts
- Every follower of Jesus has spiritual gifts
Spiritual gifts are supernatural empowerment given by the Holy Spirit to the followers of Christ. Spiritual gifts are not innate natural talents, like an ear for music or the ability to draw, but are empowerment that the Holy Spirit gives to a believer to minister to the body in ways that were not possible by mere natural effort.
- Spiritual gifts are for the building up the church and extend the Kingdom of God throughout the world
Peter says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:10). Those who prophesy, speak to men for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort (1 Corinthians 14:3)…try to excel in gifts that build up the church (1 Corinthians 14:12)…all of these things must be done for the strengthening of the church (1 Corinthians 14:26).
- It is essential believers discover and move in their spiritual gifts
It is possible for a person to neglect a spiritual gift. Paul warns Timothy not to neglect his gift (1 Timothy 4:14), and he also encourages him to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hand” (2 Timothy 1:6).
What blocks many well intentioned believers from living in their spiritual gifts? One core blockers is selfishness. The world perceives human nature as something that is evolving with time. Psychology developed what is called the humanistic perspective, in which human nature is viewed as basically good. Humanism, which is the philosophy that rules over western society, is described as a system of thought that stresses the potential value and goodness of human beings. As a consequence of this distorted view of humanity, we see how the world has made of “self” a god and has placed it in the highest of the pedestals.
This is clear everywhere we go. It’s in our media, literature, and magazines. The most popular phone is called the iPhone. The most popular thing on social media are selfies (a picture of yourself). Among the most popular magazines are “People,” “Us”, “All You,” and “Self.” This goes on and on in our modern narcissistic society. The church at large is limping down the road because the men and women of God are not stewarding their spiritual gifts and are elevating self. Pastor Chuck Smith said,
“We are all striving for one or the other. You are either striving to bring God glory, or you are striving for your own glory. You are seeking to bring praise to God, or you are seeking to bring praise to yourself. For man is driven to worship and if I don’t worship God, I will worship myself. And my god will become a projection of myself.”
We should ask ourselves: is our own life increasingly becoming of less value to ourselves for the cause of the gospel? Are we living less to please ourselves, so we can please God? If the answer is no, then that means we’re not going in the right direction. The good news is that if we find ourselves going in the wrong direction, all we have to do is repent, turn around, and go the opposite direction.
3 Tools for Success
- The mercy of God that grants us forgiveness.
- God walking along with us on our journey, helping us every step of the way.
- The Holy Spirit, who empowers us to live for God.
What we do with the cross determines where we are going to spend eternity. The way we live as believers determines how we are going to spend eternity. You may be in one of three categories.
- Revelation: You don’t know what your spiritual gifts are or how to start investing them as a wise steward. Take the attached test and start living in a way that brings great pleasure to the Lord. Click here to download the test.
- Commissioning: You know your spiritual gifts, but need to start taking action. I encourage you to not wait for the ideal situation or for when it is convenient. Just start investing your gifts faithfully in a sacrificial way.
- Expansion: Those that have a history of being faithful with their spiritual gifts will be entrusted with more. Start asking the Lord to increase your influence to manifest His presence through your spiritual gifts.