Devotional: 2 Corinthians 5
We have a rule in our house that we don’t make a promise unless we know for sure we can keep it. A promise is a guarantee of action. It’s serious. So it’s not very often that I promise something for fear of not being able to keep it and by default then show my children inconsistency. But today I make you a promise. A promise to never sugar coat the Scriptures. A promise to write with honesty. What I have on my heart today has been stirring for quite sometime. But it’s not pretty. I won’t wrap Scripture up in pretty pink paper and put a bow on it just to make you come back and read again. My friend hear the Word of the LORD and take it to heart.
We’ve lost something today. It’s absent in just about every nook and cranny of Christianity. I don’t know when we threw it away but we need to find it again. What is it you ask? It is quite simply…..a fear. of. the. LORD. We no longer fear displeasing God. There is a disconnect between going to church on Sunday and our actions and goals the rest of the week. This is going to hurt a little but think about it. How often do you ask yourself in a week if what you are doing is “pleasing to God.” If what you are watching is “pleasing to God.” If what you are thinking is “pleasing to God.” Let’s be honest….it’s not a question we ask very often, if ever. Why? Because we have lost the fear of the LORD. (Fear being a reverent awe that pushes us to daily surrender our lives to him.) And without an appropriate fear of God the urgency to please him lacks greatly. But hear this…..The extent one pleases the LORD has a direct correlation to the measure of your eternal reward. What you do in this life….MATTERS. IT MATTERS.
In the last two devo’s we established that there is a glorious life yet to come! Paul looked forward to the day he would be “home” with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). He yearned for it. But knew until that day came he had a job to do. Paul made it his aim to please God (2 Cor. 5:9) Why? Two reasons. #1. Because “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 Cor. 5:10). #2. “Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others” (2 Cor. 5:11). Paul knew the day would come that he would “give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12). He would stand (or more likely fall to his knees) before God and give an account of his good works (or lack there of). And my friend, SO. WILL. WE. And I gotta tell ya I find that fact quite motivating. If the Bible is true (which it is) then we best get busy doing what He wants (not what we want) because there will be a day we answer for it! God is love but he is also “Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds” (1 Peter 1:17a). Therefore Paul urged “conduct yourself with fear through the time of your exile” (1 Peter 1:17b).
Everyone is going to be judged. “He will render to each one according to his works; to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury” (Rom. 2:6-8). The unbeliever’s judgment is for sin. But the believer’s judgment is for works of righteousness resulting in rewards not condemnation; for “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” In the very last chapter of the Bible Jesus leaves us with these words, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12; NIV).
Our works matter. The way we live matters. What we do in this life matters. But let me make it clear right now I am NOT AT ALL preaching salvation by works. We are saved by grace through faith alone. (Eph. 2:8-9). There is nothing we can do in and of ourselves to be saved and gain eternal life. But our works prove our faith. James said “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.. But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe- and shudder!” (James 3:18-22). Even the demons believe in God. They know he is real. They know Jesus is LORD. But the difference is they do not humble themselves before him and out of a thankful and repentive heart give their lives to him.
My friend if you are a follower of Jesus Christ then you have been saved for a purpose. I will say it again…God saved you for a purpose. The goal for those who have believed in God is “to devote themselves to good works” (Titus 3:8). Christ redeemed man “to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14). “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
But take heart because God has not asked us to live righteously for nothing. He is a very generous God and longs to reward us for a life lived in devotion to Him. I am not ashamed to say this is what drives me. To receive rewards from the King….um yes please! Jesus himself encouraged us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matt. 6:20). Proverbs 11:18 says, “but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward.” And one of my favorite verses, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). A part of faith is believing that God will reward his followers!
My friend this life is short but the life to come is long. This life bears great sorrow and hardship but the life to come bears great reward. This life has purpose that directly corresponds to the life to come.
So I encourage you “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord” (Eph. 5:10). Make it your aim to please him (2 Cor. 5:9). For the extent one pleases God directly corresponds to the measure of one’s reward. Have a reverent fear of the one who judges the living and the dead. A fear that doesn’t paralyze you but characterizes your conduct.
Furthermore, if your conduct lines up very little with God’s standards I urge you out of love to examine yourself. I leave you today with the words of 1 John 2:3-6, “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.”
Are you living a life that is pleasing to Him?
By faith do you truly believe God will reward those who earnestly seek him?