Jump Start # 2403
Romans 14:12 “So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
I heard the following on a news report the other day. I suppose it’s a true story. A man had been convicted of murder. At his sentencing, he pleaded for leniency. His basis was because he had an excellent credit score. I nearly fell out of the car laughing when I heard that. What does paying your bills on time have to do with murder? He wanted the judge to show some favor to him because he had good credit.
But, then don’t we do the same with God? Here’s a guy who believes he ought to go to Heaven because he’s coached his kid’s soccer team. A band mom thinks she ought to go to Heaven because she’s volunteered so much to help the band. Here’s a person who gets up early in the mornings to pick up liter along the busy roadways. Here’s someone who rescues dogs that have been abused and abandoned. Then there is the retired teacher who volunteers to help students after school. These are all grand and noble deeds. These are all acts of love and kindness. These things help others and they make the world a better place. But just as a good credit score has nothing to do with killing someone, neither does helping pitiful dogs have anything to do with our souls and Jesus.
Our society has bought into the idea that if you volunteer, do some good deeds, show some kindness, all of that will look good on your application to Heaven. Heaven will be certain because “good people” go to Heaven. And, just what is a “good person?” One who volunteers. One who helps others. One who is kind. This is the kind of stuff that is preached at funerals. Little about faith. Nothing about Christ. All about goodness.
Having a good credit score is great, but it has nothing to do with taking someone’s life. And, so it is the same with all these other things that qualifies us as a “good” person. Those are nice, but they really do not have much, if anything, to do with our love, obedience and walk with the Lord. It is easy to think of judgment much like a balance sheet or a pair of scales. We all know that we have done wrong. However, if we pile more into the good side of things, those scales will balance out and possibly, they may even lean more to the good side than the bad side. Just keep doing more and more good and that will take care of the bad.
Now, there are several things wrong with that concept.
First, it allows us to keep doing wrong. As long as there is more good than wrong, it will balance out. So, one doesn’t really have to stop the wrong, just don’t let it get out of hand. Moderation, we hear is the key. A little wrong is ok as long as you are doing mostly good. Where do we find that in the Bible? The words of the Bible are to flee and stop wrong. Does good credit level out taking a life? Who knows how much good it will take to cover a wrong? Live pure and righteously is what God wants. Walk in faith. Keep the commandments. You don’t find any encouragement to continue on in things that are wrong. NEVER.
Second, this thinking takes God out of our salvation. This is a system of works. Do more good than bad and you’ll go to Heaven. The Bible teaches that we are not saved by works. You cannot do enough good. The illustration of sin in Matthew 18 is ten thousand talents that were owed. It took 600 denarius to make one talent. One denarius was a days wage. Six hundred days of working to make one talent. The man owed 10,000 talents. That becomes over 16,000 years of work. An impossibility. That’s the point. You can’t do enough good to bring the balance back level. There isn’t enough time and you can’t do enough good. Without Jesus, we’re lost. Without Jesus, there is no hope. It is the grace of God that saves us. We must believe and walk by faith. A person doesn’t go to Heaven because they are “good.” Over and over the Bible tells us that there is none that is good. Heaven is for those who have trusted in the Lord and done what pleases God.
Third, when we finally understand this, we are happy to do what we can for the Lord. Putting a smile on the Lord’s face is more important to us than anything else. He loves us and we love Him. We live pure because He wants us to. We worship, praise Him, defend Him, and honor His name, because of what He has done for us and what He has promised us.
Our verse tells us about this judgment. Each person must give an account of himself to God. Now, consider what that means:
First, judgment is individual. We aren’t judged as nations, congregations or even families. Just me. Just you. By ourselves. There is no hiding behind someone. There is no being overlooked in the crowd. Now, just how this will be we do not know. Alphabetically? By generations? Randomly? We might think, this will take a long time because there has been a lot of people since Adam and Eve. But if God can create everything in six days, He can get through this.
Second, judgment is personal. We must give an account of ourselves. That’s tough. I’d rather give an account of someone else. And, as we do this, God already knows. There is no blowing smoke, lame excuses, passing the buck, blaming others—it’s just you and God. Give an account. Why didn’t you worship Me? What would you say? Why did you not forgive that person? What will you say? Why did you not obey Me? What would you say?
Third, judgement is before God. We must give an account to God. To Him. If it was one of the apostles, we’d say, “You know how it is…” Or, “you’ve been this way, haven’t you?” Or, “We’re all human…” But it is before God. Holy. Pure. Righteous. Almighty. The one who thundered on the mountain. The one who all Heaven bowed to in Revelation. Just you explaining to Him, your life. Your poor, poor, pitiful life—yet He knows how you were blessed. He knows what opportunities you had. He knows your heart.
Looking at these points ought to make us shudder. I don’t have a chance—but you do. It’s because of Jesus, that makes all of this possible. Our love for the Lord and our trust in the Lord is the hope that we have. We can’t preach enough, do enough, read the Bible enough. You simply can’t do enough. Remember Paul’s words: there is a faith that he kept, there is a fight that he fought, and there is a course that he finished. Perfect? No, but he was true to the Lord. He held on to God’s unchanging hands. We don’t get Heaven because we go to church on Sundays. It’s not because we are “good” people. It’s not because we have a great credit score. It’s because of our faith in Him and His amazing grace. We get Heaven because of Him. He is the one who invites us in.
I doubt the murderer got a lesser sentence because of his credit score. I hope we realize what really matters for us—our faith, which becomes our walk in the Lord.