I’m not sure I’ve answered the point regarding everything we do has eternal consequences? I may have, but I think I’ll take the time for one more shot at it. Until we start to believe this is true, we cannot truly buy into the points that follow. I’m going to dig deep here, but it will pan out in the end.
In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus foretells a story of His return, and how He will separate those that ministered unto Him on the earth and those that did not. Now, I’m talking about full-time, pastoral ministers. Jesus spoke of those who met His needs – hunger, thirst, clothing; meeting needs, physical as well as spiritual, is ministering. But He isn’t referring to those who saw Him in His mortal body while He walked the earth. He means the people we pass on the path of life every day; to minister to them is to reach a hand to Him.
Maybe saying that every act of our daily lives has eternal consequence was not the right way to word what I’m feeling. It might be better to say that every act has the potential for eternal impact. In these verses in Matthew, all who stood before the King had the same opportunities to minister to those in need. Some chose to ignore the opportunity, while others – moved with compassion similar to how Jesus Himself was moved on this earth – took the opportunity to sow into the lives of others. Whether they were aware of it or not, they were ministering unto Jesus.
What does that mean for us? What does it mean for every decision that comes our way; to complete our work to the best of our abilities, to love our spouses and children – and show it with all we are, to hold our tongue when necessary and loose it to give life? All of these daily decisions can be tested with one question: Will this be acceptable as a work unto Christ?
We mentioned the fiery test that awaits all of our works, proving whether our works are precious stones and gems, or if they are wood, hay and stubble. Keeping that in mind, we should remember what Jesus said about our works.
“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where they can be eaten by moths and get rusty, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where they will never become moth-eaten or rusty and where they will be safe from thieves” (Matthew 6:19-20, NKJV).
Each of our works has the potential to be stored up as riches in heaven. But many times we care only about our advancement, promotion, reputation, and bank statements. We think about all the stuff the world tells us to obtain so that we might be happy, whole and needed, rather than feeling normal, average or expendable.
What happened to being concerned about whether something was right or wrong? Who decided that our internal meters of good and bad were no longer self-interested and short-sighted, but worked well enough for the greater good? When you hear the term post-modernism, this is one of its central tenets. We live in a world where what feels good trumps what is truly good. We have not only started, but rather abundantly swing towards, calling evil good and good evil. That is, until your “good” steps on my “good” and I get to sue you because the law is on my side.
That is why we truly need an unchanging, eternal barometer by which we can compare our lives and our works as good or evil. We can’t trust ourselves, because the increasing breakdown of society serves to prove that…
“God saw that human wickedness was growing out of bounds on earth; that the intention of all human thinking produced nothing but evil all day” (Genesis 6:5, New Berkeley Version).
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we proudly display our righteous deeds, we find they are but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall. And our sins, like the wind, sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6, NLT)
But what is that eternal barometer for good? It is Jesus. That is why we must do all things as unto the Lord.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:1-2a, NKJV).
Only then will our treasures be stored up in heaven. Only then will our works be a glorious reward that endures the fire. Only then do our lives take on meaning and significance in a world where such lives seem to be in short supply. This is the first step in living for eternity.
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV).