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Your Eternal Reward

What We Might Lose

Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer | March 2, 1997

Selected highlights from this sermon

Every Christian will stand before Jesus to be judged, but there will be some who will barely enter the kingdom. There is a lot to lose if we are disobedient servants. 

Pastor Lutzer will explain what we need to do to avoid losing any rewards that might be bestowed on us, and warns us that what is in our hearts will be what matters—there will be no hidden motives or secrets that will not be exposed when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. 

Well, sometimes you hear some interesting things when you listen to the radio. About a week ago I was driving along and I heard this advertisement: “Recent evidence confirms that you live only once. Are you driving a BMW?” Well, since I had the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ on my mind I couldn’t help but smile.

First of all, yes, I think that we do live only once here, but we also live forever somewhere else, and the ad didn’t tell us that. Secondly, I doubt whether you drive a BMW is going to be the big issue at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Now mind you, it might be an issue. Maybe at the Judgment Seat you’ll wish you had driven a Ford and taken the extra money and given it to missions. But I don’t think that you are going to have to show your registration certificate to show the car that you were driving. But you will have to show your checkbook. There’s no question about that, because that really indicates our priorities.

Well, as you know, this is the third in a series of messages on the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ, and the seriousness with which we must take that judgment seat, and the recognition that the Bible teaches that there are going to be really two large camps – two large divisions. There are going to be those who are going to be at the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ, who know Christ as Savior, and who have trusted Him. And that’s the topic really of our message. And then there are going to be those at the Great White Throne Judgment. All those of you who are listening who are not born again, we want you to listen today. But I want you to know that the judgment about which I speak is not the place where you will be appearing. You will be at the Great White Throne Judgment, a judgment of terror and fierce holiness and judgment. That’s something else. As a matter of fact, at the end of this series I hope to preach a message on that just simply to round these judgments out and to give the full biblical picture.

But today to whom do I speak? I speak first of all to myself. The Apostle Paul was about 55 years old, and he said that he knew that he could be a castaway. He could be tossed aside. Any one of us can fail miserably. As long as we are alive, we can still blow it. So I speak to myself, and I speak to all the other Christians who are listening, as well as the non-Christians who are listening to find out what it is that we are going to be enduring, and then thinking back to that great judgment that they will have to endure unless they repent and receive Christ as Savior.

Let’s think of heaven as a theme park. If you use that analogy, then indeed it can be said that the ticket is free to those who admit their helplessness and trust Christ as Savior. “Not of works lest any man should boast,” the Bible says. But I also want you to know that once you get inside, at least some of the rides are not free. They are dependent upon your faithfulness here on earth.

What I’d like to do today is to ask you to take your Bibles and turn to an image that is given to us in the Scriptures, a very powerful image of the Judgment Seat of Jesus Christ. It’s found in 1 Corinthians 3. You probably know it. It says in verses 11 through 15, “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 one'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 one 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.”

As I was meditating on this, it dawned on me that there might be one way by which we could say that we were at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and be thoroughly evaluated, and yet not see our sin. And that way would be if everything we did were translated either into wood, hay or straw, or gold, silver and precious stones. Then all that we do is to see the fire, and the bigger the fire, the greater the wasted life. But because of other reasons, I don’t think that that’s the way we should interpret this. I think that at the Judgment Seat of Christ, if we do see our sins, they will be as forgiven sins. But everything that is hidden shall be revealed, the Scripture says, and as we go through the message today I want you to understand the full implications of that.

If you were with us last week, you know that we emphasized that the purpose of God is to find a bride for Christ, an eternal companion who will rule with Him forever. That is God’s intention, and all of life is a training ground to train us to rule in the Kingdom. What a thrilling message that was to my own heart!

Today’s message is a little bit more somber. It is a message of warning. But I have the responsibility not only to preach those messages that take us all the way to heaven, but also those that sometimes rebuke us and make us ponder all that is going to happen in eternity, and this is one of those messages, hopefully instructive and life-changing as we think about the awesome judgment seat before which all of us shall stand.

Well, with our Bibles open, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 3 very quickly as we see the principles by which God is going to judge us. Very quickly, first of all, obviously the emphasis is quality and not quantity. You could go in your backyard and find a whole heap of wood, hay and straw – at least some backyards. Some of you grew up in places where your backyards had that. No big deal! It’s worth maybe $50, maybe $100. And then in your hand you could hold gold and silver and a few gems, and they would be worth more than all of the wood and the hay and the straw in the whole neighborhood, and then some.

The idea is not how much we do but what we do, and how we do it. What kinds of things are going to remain at the Judgment Seat when it’s torched by the fire of God’s holiness? Well one thing is certainly ministries and lives based on the Word of God. Paul is talking about the foundation. The foundation is Jesus Christ. You build your life stone by stone upon that which is in the Word of God, and you will be rewarded. And so what we do is we think of the fact that the Word of God builds into our lives the kinds of ministries and lives that will do well at the judgment.

When I was younger I used to memorize Scripture, and I’m getting away from it, so a week ago some of us committed to one another to hold each other accountable to memorize five verses a week. We’re working at it, and any one of us can say to anybody else (that is, among our little group), “How are you doing today? Do you have your verse down?” Well, you guys, I want you to know I only did four last week. So I’ll confess publicly. You know “everything that is hidden shall be revealed.” The Word of God has the ability to change our lives.

And then, of course, character. It is not so much what we do, though that is important as we shall see. In next week’s message I hope to answer specifically the question of what it is that Jesus Christ is looking for and what will survive the fire. But one of the things is our secret life. You go into the closet to pray, the Father rewards you openly. You give secretly, the Father rewards you openly. It is character. It is who we are.

D. L. Moody used to say that character is what a man is in the dark, and that’s a pretty good definition. And it was Amy Carmichael who said, “The work will never go deeper than we have gone ourselves.” So at the Judgment Seat it is not just what we do, though that will be included, but who we really were. Character! So it’s a matter of quality and not quantity.

Secondly, it’s a matter of reality and not appearances. Just look at verse 13. Underline three words that just pop out of the text regarding how thorough this judgment is going to be. “Each man’s work will become evident (manifest).” There’s a word to underline. It’s going to be revealed. It’s going to be shown, for the day will show it. There is the word show. And then it says, “Because it is to be revealed with fire.” Do you see the completeness of it?

Somebody said that the imagery here is of someone who takes his pockets and turns them inside out. Do you remember that as children we would sometimes say, “Do you have a penny in your pocket?” “No, I don’t have a penny in my pocket.” “Oh, I’ll bet you do.” And so what the child would have to do is to pull out the pocket and turn it inside out so that you could see the seams and every speck of lint and dust had to be thrown away. That’s the way it’s going to be.

Every idle word that a man shall speak he shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. I’ve already quoted the text that says that everything that is hidden shall be revealed. And the Bible says all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. You talk about reality! Why is it that we need to find our works torched? It’s because in this life we can’t always tell the difference between the stubble and the gold. We can’t!

You look at somebody’s life, and you may say, and I may say, judging him or her, “Well, look at that! Nothing but wood, hay and straw! Just a big pile of rubble!” And yet it is torched and there amid the hay are little nuggets of gold, and we say, “Wow! That’s wonderful! We didn’t know it was there. It was hidden.” Jesus said, “A cup of cold water given in my name and you won’t lose your reward.”

Then there may be somebody else and we think, “Now, he is just nothing but having built on gold, silver and precious stones. He is pure gold.” And then his works are torched and we discover that what we thought was a brick of gold was actually the end of a two by four. It just goes up in flames.

The Apostle Paul says, “I can’t even really judge myself.” In a future message I hope to talk about this business of motives, which are so mixed in all of us. How does God take any impure work and make it acceptable? And so there is going to be this revelation, and things are going to be revealed. Paul says that God is going to expose (This is 1 Corinthians 4) the motives of men’s hearts.

By the way, this is another reason why I think that the judgment is going to be somewhat public. You remember we dealt with that in the first message. I’ll tell you why. It’s because I think disputes are finally going to be settled here. You know here’s a couple. Let’s take a Christian couple that can’t get along together. Did you know that there are Christian couples that don’t get along very well together? And then they come for counsel and we’re trying to find the truth, and we’re trying to get to the bottom of their problem. Frankly, it would be easier to get to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. And sometimes you want to do that and just stay there rather than trying to solve these other problems. “He said this.” “No, you said that.” “No, you started it.” “No, you didn’t.” “I did this and you did that.” And you say, “Oh God, how in the world are we going to get to the bottom of this?” “Oh,” you say, “but then they’re going to have glorified bodies, so they are going to go into heaven lovey-dovey and they are going to love one another forever.” Of course, they are going to have glorified bodies, and of course, they won’t have sin natures, and of course they are finally going to get along. But what is the Judgment Seat of Christ all about if it isn’t to finally reveal the truth?

Here’s somebody whose reputation is ruined. Now nobody can ruin your character, but people can ruin your reputation. God help the person who doesn’t know the difference. But somebody lies about you and all these stories have dogged you until the day you die. There’s going to be a day of revelation, a day of truth, when finally everything will be laid bare, and nobody will argue, and every mouth will be stopped and everybody will say, “Well, that’s the way it is.”

I know that some of you are uncomfortable with this, because you were taught that because Jesus has forgiven our sins that everybody is going to slip into heaven, and the Judgment Seat of Christ is a bit of a charade that you just get past. Why would it even be called the Judgment Seat? Why would Paul say in 1 Corinthians 4:5 (I quoted part of the text), “Do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts?” Of course our sins will be presented as forgiven sins if we see them. They will be forgiven. But God is going to evaluate us very thoroughly, not according to appearance but according to reality.

One other observation and that is that it is a matter of rewards, not a matter of salvation. Notice what the text says. Now we’re still in 1 Corinthians 3. It says in verse 14, “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.” Verse 15 says, “If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss.” And that’s the phrase I’m interested in, by the way, and that is the title of this message. What does it mean to suffer loss? “He will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

I think it was Dr. Harry Ironside who used to occupy this pulpit many years ago who said that it’ll be just as if a man is running from a house, and the house is burning and it collapses behind him. Everything goes up in flames but he survives. He’ll make it to heaven, but he’ll take nothing with him because everything that he did was torched and it all burned.

What does it mean to suffer loss? Is that a big deal? Should we just gloss over that and say, “Well, you know, it couldn’t be that big because he’s in heaven?” How big a deal is it? Well, let me explain to you that I think that there are two ways that we can suffer loss. One is by what we do. The other, as we shall see in a moment, is by what we don’t do. And in both instances we can suffer loss.

Now I want you to take your Bibles and turn to Ephesians 5. I’m going to give you an interpretation of Ephesians 5 that not everyone agrees with. This is an interpretation that I hold to, but there are those who would believe that they know better than I. And that is certainly their privilege, and perhaps they even do. But this is my interpretation of Ephesians 5. In order for you to understand it, I believe that there are two different kinds of inheritances. There is heaven, which all believers will be in with God and all the other things we talked about in the last message. But then there is an additional inheritance in the kingdom, which is reserved for those who will get to rule with Christ because of faithfulness here on earth. Think about that phrase – to inherit a kingdom. King Hussein of Jordan inherited the kingdom of Jordan. What does that mean? It means he got to rule. That’s what it means to inherit the kingdom.

Now with that background let’s look at Ephesians 5, beginning in verse 3: “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”

Now comes the shocker. “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light, and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord,” it says in verse 10.

Now here’s the difference of interpretation. Some people think that when it says in verse 5 that an immoral or impure person (a covetous man) will not inherit the kingdom, they think that this refers to the unsaved who will not even enter into heaven. I interpret it differently. I think that there are Christians who can be characterized as immoral, impure and covetous. Can we just talk plainly here so that we are not accused of ambiguity? Are there not Christians who still struggle with sexual addiction? Are there are not men who are addicted to pornography who are Christians? Certainly we would admit that Christians still have these kinds of sins. At least some Christians do. Hopefully there are few, but it’s there.

I think that when Paul says, “Do not be partakers with them,” what he’s saying is that he recognizes that you can become a part of the same lifestyle. So when he says, “These kinds of people will not inherit the Kingdom of God,” I think he means that they will enter the kingdom but they will not have kingdom rule. They will not inherit it. They will be denied rule with Christ. What a sobering passage!

And I know that you are saying to yourself, “Well, you know, time out! Just wait a moment! Hang on! Not so fast!” What if some of these things were characteristic of your life for five years but not for the last ten years? Or what if they were characteristic of your life for only a short period of time? What if, what if, what if? The Bible doesn’t answer all of those questions, but this much we can be quite sure of, namely that every life is going to be a mixture of wood, hay and straw, and gold, silver and precious stones, and that both will be taken into account - the years that you lived in impurity, or the years in which you lived in sin. All of that will be taken into account.

Furthermore, I think Paul is referring to those who have these things as their lifestyle. By the way, it’s not just immorality, which we often emphasize, but notice he says a covetous man. Do you think it’s possible for a Christian to be covetous and greedy? Paul says he’s an idolater, and don’t let him ever think that he’s going to inherit the kingdom. He won’t make it. He’ll make it into the kingdom but he’s not going to inherit it because God says covetousness is idolatry. You love money? You’re in big trouble.

Now here’s what the Bible would teach us. There are two things. First of all, that sin is very, very serious among God’s people. Very serious! This is not play stuff. And secondly, if we judge ourselves and deal with our sins, there’s no question about God’s grace and mercy. And we have to hold those two truths together and never let them become separate.

The Apostle Paul was talking in 1 Corinthians to believers who were being judged by God. They were dying. God was causing them to die because they were disrespectful and dishonoring at the Lord’s Table. Some of them were getting drunk. Some of them were using it as an opportunity to have a potluck dinner, and they were excluding the poor. And God said, “You know, I’ve had enough. These are my people but they are being disciplined.”

And then Paul said these words: “If we were to judge ourselves, the Lord would not have to judge us this way.” And I ask you today that if the sins that we just read about are a part of your lifestyle, and you have accommodated yourself to them, and you’ve said, “This is the way I’m going to live and I’m not even going to repent of them or fight them,” I warn you today. Could this be any clearer? No of a certainty! How often does Paul say that? Not too often! “But no immoral person or covetous man who is an idolater has an inheritance in the kingdom,” Paul says. It’s serious stuff! “But if you judge yourself in repentance! If that is not your lifestyle!”

Dr. Carson was here some time ago and he was talking to somebody who was actually cheating on his wife. It was a student who was living in another country, and now that his wife was in another part of the world, he felt free to be immoral. And when it was pointed out to him that this is serious business, his answer was, “Well, of course God will forgive me because that’s his job.” Know with assurance that that man will not inherit the kingdom of God. If he’s a Christian he will be saved so as by fire. He will suffer loss. That’s what we’re talking about. He shall be saved but he shall not inherit the kingdom. That guy will not sit on the throne with Christ to rule. He’ll have other duties but he won’t rule.

Now, one of the ways in which we can suffer loss is by the things we do, the sins that we tolerate and learn to live with and will not judge. There’s a second way that we can lose at the Judgment Seat and that is by the things we don’t do.

And that leads us to a story of someone who suffered loss at the Judgment Seat. Would you take your Bibles one more time and turn now to the Gospel of Luke. And this passage is one that has oftentimes been referred to, and you know the story. And because of time I’m going to summarize it very quickly. We pick it up on Luke 19 at about verse 11. Let me tell you the story.

A nobleman goes into a country and he decides to give money to some of his slaves. In my translation it says minas. I still like the old word talent. But it was a sum of money. And he called ten of his slaves and he gave them ten talents and he said, “Do business with this until I come.” And so you’ll notice that when he returned, having received the kingdom, it says in verse 16, “The first appeared and said, ‘Master, your talent made ten talents more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave. Because you have been faithful in a very little thing, have authority over ten cities.’ And the second came and said, ‘Master, your talent has made five talents.’ And he said, ‘You are to rule over five cities.’”

Now I want you to notice that the Scripture tells us here that there was one man, and that’s why Jesus told the story, who was not a faithful servant at all. Verse 20, “Another came and said, ‘Master, behold your talent which I put away in a handkerchief. I was afraid of you because you were an exacting man. You take up where you do not lay down, and you reap what you do not sow.’” Now this is the master speaking in verse 22 and he said to him, “By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you not know that I am an exacting man taking up what I did not lay down, and reaping what I did not sow? Why then did you not put the money in the bank and have it gain some interest that I could collect?” And the master said to the bystanders, “Take the talent away from him and give it to the one who has ten talents.” And they said, “Well, Master, he’s got ten talents already.” And the master said, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he has shall be taken away.” And then he talks about the enemies who were not his servants who will be brought and slain in his presence.

A couple of observations! Here was a man who was wrong about himself. Maybe because he didn’t have the same talent that others did, perhaps he thought to himself, “If I can’t have the same talent that somebody else has I’m not going to use the one that I’ve got.” There’s another parable that Jesus told where there’s a different degree of talents given to each one, just like life. And so he was wrong about himself, and he was wrong about God. He thought to himself, “God is such a hard man. He kind of does what He wants in the world, and therefore if I can’t serve Him the way I want to serve Him without any risk, I won’t do it.” By the way, have you ever felt that way? Have you ever thought to yourself, “Why is life so inexact and so unfair?” There are people who are gifted and talented. They are born into money. They ascend the ladder. Everything they touch turns to gold and everything that you touch turns to mud.” And you think to yourself, “This just isn’t fair. If that’s the way God is going to run His world, I’m going to run my own life.” Like one woman said in anger as she got into the car and zipped off, “God, I’ll see you around town, but I’m going to do my own thing.” Have you ever felt that way? Beware!

Now, what did this man lose? He was a servant. What did he lose? Well he lost the approval of his master, and that was really tough to lose. Can you imagine it? “You lazy slave!” You say, “Well, you know, Jesus would never talk that way.” Well, don’t be so sure. You know, in the book of Revelation He wrote some letters and He said some very harsh things to His own people about the way in which they were living. Maybe only His look, maybe the way in which He turns away in sadness will say it all. Maybe that’s what will happen.

Something else that might happen at the Judgment Seat is that he experienced temporary rejection. The master said, “Take the talent from him.” Can you imagine how that hurt? Not permanent rejection but temporary rejection!

Let me read you a passage of Scripture that I just want you to think about and put into your pure mind. This is what the Bible says in the book of Timothy. Just listen.

“It is a trustworthy statement. If we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.” Is it possible for God to deny one of His people? Temporarily, because we shall receive the recompense for the deeds done in the body, whether they are good or bad. I’m just reading the Bible. And then it goes on to say, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful. He cannot deny Himself.” It’s not as if there’s some kind of a permanent denial because that would then affect the integrity of God who has chosen to bring His children all the way home. But could it be that there is a temporary denial because we will be recompensed for the deeds done, whether they are good or bad?

There was a third loss. The approval of the master he lost. The temporary acceptance that he should have had was not there. And then thirdly, of course, he was not permitted to rule in the kingdom. You say, “Well, does that mean that there are some people who when they suffer loss are going to enter into heaven, and throughout all of eternity they are going to cower in some dark corner in regret?” No, that will not happen. You know that that won’t happen because God Himself shall wipe away their tears. And I think that probably the tears are tears of regret that some of us will have.

No, no, no, it’s not like that. It’s like when we discipline our children in the family, and then we bring them back and we sit them at the table and we enjoy them, and we are reconciled to them with great joy and great rejoicing. And in heaven everybody is happy! Everybody singing praises to God! Everybody having access to the Almighty! Everyone a part of the choir, so far as we know! We’re all going to be there! Everybody giving praise to God! But some people have more responsibility in the kingdom than others because they were faithful here. Different assignments in the kingdom!

You can have a kingdom today and there are some servants that do one thing, and some servants that do another. Everyone assigned a task! Everyone happy! But there are some people who will not get the ultimate rule that they might have had, and if they do rule, it will be over a smaller segment of the kingdom. That’s what the text teaches. I do not know how to interpret Christ’s parable in any other way. The issue of faithfulness is important.

Two quick observations on the parable! Obviously your talent is your trust. Do you know they didn’t own this money – the slaves didn’t? The master gave it to them. See, our problem is, God gives us money, and He gives us advancement, and He gives us health, and we think it’s ours to kind of do with as we wish. No, no, no, those are gifts of God. They didn’t come from us. They belong to Him. We are accountable to Him for it.

Your talent is your trust. Your talent is your test. How faithful are you going to be whether it’s gold or silver, or whether it is straw? How faithful will you be? That’s what the talent is all about. And you know, next week we’re going to talk about that which really is the gold, silver and precious stones – what Christ is looking for – but let me mention one thing since we are talking about talents.

Let me talk about money for just a moment. Sometimes when churches like ours have needs, and by the way we do have financial needs here at The Moody Church, we tend to advertise those needs, and we tell people about them, and we tell people how much to give, and that’s fine. But I want you to know that that is not the highest reason to give. That isn’t the real reason to give. I’ll tell you why. If you give only because a church has a need or a mission organization has a need, you are going to become critical of that church or mission organization so that you don’t have to give anymore.

You say, “Well, why should I give to them? Look at what they did with that money. I don’t like what they bought, and so I don’t have to give,” and so that’s your protest vote. That’s not why you give – just because there are needs. 

Or else you say, “Well, the organization has a lot of money. Why should I give?” That’s not the point really. It’s a point, but not the point. The point is, the reason that we are generous is because we are being tested as to whether or not we are willing to take the risk and give generously, and there is a risk that this unfaithful servant wouldn’t take. We are willing to take the risk of being generous, believing that we shall be rewarded in this life however God sees fit, not necessary financially, but most assuredly in the life to come, because we believe in another world. And we believe that we shall give an account for the deeds done, and whether we have laid up treasures in heaven or not. That’s the important thing. That’s the motivation. It’s because we love God and we’d like to see Jesus satisfied with us because we love Him so much.

There is a story that comes to us from India. It’s a legend. The story is that a wealthy rajah, an Indian prince, was riding along in his lovely chariot with all his wealth and attendants, and there was a beggar who was standing along the road. And the beggar held up his bowl of rice, expecting this rajah to give him something. And so the chariot stopped. The rajah came over to the beggar and said, “Beggar, give me some of your rice.” The beggar couldn’t believe it. I mean the nerve of this wealthy guy asking him for rice. The beggar was angry. But gingerly he gave him a grain of rice. The rajah said, “Give me more of your rice.” The beggar said to himself in his own mind, “You evil man.” Maybe he thought of different words to put it in. “Whom are you to ask that I should give you rice?” So gingerly he gives him another grain of rice, and then he decides to give him a third, but that’s it.

The beggar turns away, and the rajah gets on his chariot and rides off. The beggar is still angry, but in his anger and fury, he looks into the bowl and he notices something glitter. And he picks it up and it’s a grain of gold, the size of a grain of rice. He looks more carefully and he finds two more. For every grain of rice, a grain of gold! That’s how God is.

God says, “You let me run your life, you surrender yourself to me, you let me be Lord and King and God, and for every grain of rice you’ll have a grain of gold.” But if we want to run our own lives we’ll say, “Well, who is God up there anyway? I’ve got my life to live. Look at what He’s done to me.”

“When has He done something for me lately?” somebody said in anger regarding God. Watch it! That’s what this unfaithful servant did, and he hung onto his bowl of rice and kept it for himself and used it as he saw fit. And the master said to him, “You lazy slave. Look at what I gave you, and look at what you did with it. 

Your talent is your test. All of us, may I say one more time (and forgive the repetition), shall stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ and give an account for the deeds done in the body, whether good or bad. Some will receive a reward. Others will be saved, suffering loss so as by fire. What a day to motivate us and to say, “Oh God, take my whole bowl of rice.”

And will you join me as we pray?

Our Father, today we want to thank You for the awesome responsibility that You’ve given to us. And the carelessness with which we live our lives is frightening. We ask today, Lord, that graciously You might complete the work that You would like to do in our lives. If You have spoken to us today, keep speaking even after the communion service and even after we have gone home, and even after the pressure of business of next week comes upon us. Help us to know that we are doing it for You. And we ask, Father, that graciously You might help all of us to give You our bowl of rice.

And now before I close this prayer, what is it that you need to say to Jesus today? If you don’t know Him as Savior, you won’t be at that judgment. You’ll be at another one, more terrifying. You can receive Him through faith. Admit your helplessness and turn to Him. If you know Him as Savior, what is it that is the wood, hay and stubble that Christ has pointed out today? You tell Him you want to do it.

Our Father, we ask in the name of Christ be gracious to us for we are very needy. We pray in His name, Amen.

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