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re Judgment

The believer's judgment by his Lord is not the same as the divine wrath that will fall on unrepentant humankind in general. I Corinthians 3 tells us the believer, built upon the foundation of Christ will -- though personally secure -- be judged as to the quality of his work for Christ:

1 Corinthians 3:12-13 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.

Which raises the question, how do we determine which works are in the first category (gold, silver, precious stones) and which are in the second (wood, hay, straw). Big difference between the two and no mention of any kind of "in between" works.

One clue follows in chapter 4: (1 Corinthians 4:5) Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.

It appears that hidden motives & purposes are critical in determining the value of a work. If I do something good for the following reasons:
  • to be seen and thought well of by others
  • to earn spiritual brownie points
  • to feel good about myself
  • to lessen feelings of guilt or fear
  • to receive reciprocal favors back from others
...then it seems the works --though good in relation to others-- are not valuable in God's sight as flowing from a relationship of grace, of love, of gratitude toward him.

If I do something good for the following reasons:

  • out of thankfulness to God
  • in response to his goodness and grace
  • as a loving response to who he is
  • to be a blessing to his creation & those who bear his image
  • to bring attention to God by honoring him
...then it seems that those kind of works would be valuable.

These motives are polar opposites, hence no middle ground. Outwardly we cannot tell if someone is praying, or serving, or giving, or sacrificing, or any good thing because of right motives and purposes.

Hence we really need the judgment of Christ that those who have served him well might receive their commendation.


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