When the athletes come forward at an awards ceremony to receive their medals, they are being rewarded for what they achieved. It is only the first, the second and the third athletes that receive medals - no-one else. But here Paul tells us that there will be a very different, and very unusual, awards ceremony in eternity, when we are no longer in our body, when everyone who has run in the race of life will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to receive their reward for everything they have done – whether good or bad – not just those who the world might think of as winners. There will be no exceptions – everyone will be there!
On New Year’s Day in the UK, the Queen announced a long list of people who are to be rewarded by the government for their services to the nation. This annual list can include famous people whose achievements are already well known through the media, or people who are largely unknown to the general public who have quietly got on with their work and selflessly served the nation in whatever has been their particular calling in life. This year, a long term friend of mine was awarded the MBE for his services. I was totally thrilled that he has been publicly recognised for all he has quietly and unassumingly done throughout his life. He will now be preparing himself for his investiture ceremony before the Queen, or another senior member of the Royal Family. It will be a very special occasion.
But in recent months there have been several people who have been given such awards, or higher awards such as knighthoods, who have subsequently been discovered, some posthumously, to have been involved in criminal activity such as sexual abuse. Steps are then taken to strip them of their national awards when the true nature of the individual’s life is revealed. It was only when the light of true knowledge was able to shine on the details of their lives that a more accurate assessment of that person’s life could be made. This prompts a very disturbing question – what is being hidden in all our lives, which no-one else knows about – both the good and the bad – for nothing will be able to be covered in the face of the light of Christ in eternity?
I recently had an x-ray on my knee. Superficially the knee looked fine. But the penetrative x-rays were able to reveal the consequences of a rugby injury from over fifty years ago! On that final day, when we are no longer able to hide anything, everything about us will appear on that spiritual x-ray for everyone to see. And, as Paul expresses so clearly in our Scripture for today, Jesus will reward everyone accordingly, for both the good and the bad. We will not be able to cover anything up by the clothing we choose to wear at our investiture before the King of Kings. The only covering for our sins, that will be adequate on that day, will be the robe of righteousness given to those who have chosen to follow and believe in Jesus and who are, therefore, in Him.
In another Scripture (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) Paul likens that judgement day to a testing of fire, and he says that if what we have built in our lives survives the fire, then we will receive our reward. How we live our lives now, within the confines of time, will have a profound effect on what happens at the only awards ceremony that matters and on our lives in eternity!
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to always be aware of eternity during all the days that You have allotted to me in time. I pray that You will show me the things that You consider precious and to spend my days doing those things that will bring joy to Your face on that precious eternal day. In Jesus’s name. Amen.
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