There's a fire coming that we all will go through
You possess your possessions or they possess you
And if the house burns down tonight
I got everything I need when I got You by my side
– Jon Foreman
In these words, I hear the same truth that reverberates throughout the Old Testament, New Testament, and the words of Jesus. Everyone will pass through the fires of judgment before the Righteous Creator of all things. We will either be judged by God when Jesus returns to do away with sin and death, or right after we take our last breath.
Now don’t get too worked up. This is not supposed to freak us out. We often cringe at the idea of God’s judgment, but I believe God has planned judgment for us because He wants to bless us and reward us.
God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. He loves to reward the righteous. He is the kind of Father who studies you and your movements so He can find what is good and pleasing and worthy of building upon. He is the kind of Coach who tries to catch you doing the right thing, instead of only talking to you when you do the wrong thing.
One of God’s messengers gives us insight into God in the book of Ephesians. He writes that God has rewards prepared for you when you do the work He has prepared for you in the way He has prepared you to do it. What? I know it sounds crazy, but it is actually extravagant love. God really does want to reward you and me.
At the same time, if we do not adhere to God’s commands and follow His lead, He will be compelled by His desire for righteousness to do two things:
First, He will withhold the rewards He would love to give (and we would love to receive).
Second, for those who do not have Christ in their lives, He will punish.
Those who have received Christ are free from God’s punishment because Jesus took it for us; but we can miss out on rewards that God wants to give us. For those who have not received Christ as their Savior—they will have to receive their just punishment.
I wrote this little poem to try to say all this in another way:
The words of Jesus linger strong still
What’s done will be judged according to His will
It’s not wrong to enjoy all that we’ve been given
But it’s the giving away that counts up in heaven
The Master commends those with eternity in sight
See Jesus honor the widow with her mite
Keep up the giving even when things get tight
’Cause heaven rewards those who get giving right