I had a nice visit with a friend in the hospital the other day. Somehow this topic of the judgment came up and he said that he was confident that we would not be judged for our sins, but that we would be judged for the missed opportunities and the lack of zeal in our hearts for serving the Lord. In other words, we would be judged for actions after our salvation.
Now, he said that he didn’t mean sins; he believed that our future sins were washed away with our past sins. What he meant was our works for the Lord. Perhaps I should say our performance. It fascinates me that it always seems to come back to our performance.
Once we become Christians, according to this way of thinking, we become responsible to perform according to a certain set of standards. Failure to do so will bring shame and regret, perhaps even condemnation. Could you lose your salvation based on poor performance? Some believe that. At the minimum, we will be judged somehow, someday, for our poor performance. After all, we all know that we have missed opportunities to stand up for the Lord and we have even continued to do things that He considers sinful. So, some type of spiritual consequence seems reasonable—according to this type of thinking.
But if we believe that our sins are removed and there will never be any condemnation for us, as the Scripture says, then the negative side of our performance is a moot point. The fact that I miss opportunities or that I continue to do sinful things certainly does not surprise the Lord. He knows that I am learning to walk with Him, but my flesh continues to have a strong influence in my life. God knows these things and He still accepts me.
And the fact that some of my works are stained by my fleshly input isn’t a surprise to God or to me. In some ways the surprise is that some of my works are not stained in that way. Amazingly, wondrously, the Lord does use me and does bring glory to Himself through me. So, if some of my works are burned up in the fire, why would that be a disappointment to me? That’s what I expect. The only emotion I will feel is the joy of seeing that somehow He managed to do His work in, through, and with me.
Will I regret not giving more? Will I be ashamed that I didn’t witness more or serve more? I really don’t think so. It isn’t that I am “doing just fine.” I know that the flesh is still active and still influential. I also know that all the glory for any good in me belongs to Jesus.
So, I told my friend that there will only be joy in that day, according to my thinking and according to what I believe the Scripture teaches. He had to stop and think and I hope that he continues to think.