Thursday, May 5, 2016

Quality over quantity

How oblivious are we to the fact that choices we make on our journey towards heaven greatly impact our eternity there?  Of course we are to remain faithful until the end, never trade our salvation for the things of this world and never be lured away by sin – hopefully these are well-established truths for every Christian.  But our reward isn’t just escaping hell.  God intends to reward us richly based on the choices we make in this short life on earth right now.

He’s looking for quality – a quality of faith that can withstand fire and storms, a quality of love for Him that doesn’t worry about the approval of others, but pushes on to build up His Kingdom, His church, His people despite criticism or misunderstandings.  This world can’t even see that level of quality, and religious traditionalists are blind to it even more.  God saw the qualities of a king in a shepherd boy, David.  Jesus saw the qualities of raw faith in a Roman centurion who recognized His authority.  Gideon, the weakest of his tribe and clan was hand picked by the Angel of the Lord because of his spirit of revolt, which was the quality God needed to say, “Go in this your strength!”  No one would have chosen them by worldly standards, but there was eternal value in each of them that God gladly used.

The standards of the Kingdom of God are far above us.  When others are praising the greatness of philanthropists and poets and movers and shakers of this world, God is looking to see whether anything of eternal value exists in their lives.  If they have no faith in Him, all the good they do will be burned up in the end along with the praise and accolades of the world, and their future will be torment.  Not because God chose it, but because they did.  

And if someone does have faith in God and is headed towards heaven, God searches for anything of eternal value in them beyond their salvation.  They may be extremely active in their churches, coming home exhausted from evangelizing, scrubbing the church toilets and organizing for the next big meeting, but if their hearts are set on gaining the approval of their pastors and being seen as important in the eyes of others, God sees all their hard work as piles of stubble and hay.  If they turn their backs on others who don’t fit into their mold of the “perfect Christian” and spread rumors or gossip, they nullify the good that they do, because they are laying foundations that are worthless.  Churchiness is of no value to God.  Faith and faithfulness regardless of what others think, or do, is.

Every man or woman of God who was used in the Bible was a surprise, a misfit and even a shock to people around them.  The risks they took to please God were priceless diamonds to Him, but usually offensive to others.  Only after they were tested by fire, did those risks prove their eternal value.  Moses, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Elijah and Elisha, Mary the sister of Martha, Matthew, Peter, Simon the Zealot, Paul, and the list goes on.  If our hearts are set on impressing others, we will have little to nothing of eternal value to show for our lives once we make it to heaven – if we make it to heaven.

In these few decades of life on this earth, we are given the choice to build lasting and permanent foundations, which will often mean doing things that no one will ever thank us for or acknowledge.  That’s where our faith is truly tested – we say that we love Jesus more than anything, but do we love Him enough to live a quality of life that only He might see?  Do we give up when we don’t gain immediate recognition for our good deeds?  Or even worse, do we not even bother to strive for a quality faith because we assume that we’re saved anyway?  A heart with that kind of attitude is so far from God, and may not even be saved at all.

Like Matthew 6:1 says, “Be sure that you not do your charitable deeds before men to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” Let’s decide to live every day laying down the most precious and lasting treasures that will honor God today and last forever.  

For no one can lay another foundation than that which was laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or stubble, each one’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each has done. If anyone’s work which he has built on the foundation endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss. But he himself will be saved, still going through the fire.  1 Corinthians 3:11-15, MEV

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