Long ago, when in college, I had friends who showed up in class who obviously had not slept much the night before. They were up into the small hours of morning ‘cramming,’ trying to absorb weeks of material in preparation for an exam to be given that day. Cramming was not my style. I preferred to pay attention in class and read my the material as it was assigned. I don’t recall ever spending an entire night before an exam trying to stuff information into my brain. My exam prep was a review to refresh what I had already learned. I still generally prefer methodical preparation over last minute scrambling to meet a deadline, a plodder by nature, I suppose.
Paul urged maturity of faith for the Corinthian Christians who were notorious for their impulsiveness, their abuse of spiritual gifts, and their love of personalities. He tells them about the promise of their immortality in Christ, that He opened Heaven to them by His death and Resurrection. “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:6-10, NIV)
When faith informs us in our day to day experience, life and death lose their fearfulness! “Always confident,” Paul says. Twice we see him affirm that our boldness to engage life, to deal with the unexpected that comes our way, grows out of our understanding that there is more going on than meets the eye, that we are on a road that leads to home. This assurance led Paul to say that he was, in fact, eager to be ‘home with the Lord.’ Christians sometimes repeat this thought, but then when I see the choices they are making, I wonder if they really grasp what they are saying? The ‘rest of the story,’ so to speak, is that there is an exam waiting for each one of us.
Knowing that we have an eternal life, a prepared place in God’s house, gives us great confidence. It is not just a promise for the future, however. This hope, if firmly believed, will cause us to make significant changes in the choices we make about the things we do and say. Why? Because we know that each one of us will stand before Jesus for exams!
Our salvation is a gift, let’s not forget that. The question asked at the ‘judgment seat’ of which this passage speaks is not about whether we ‘make it in’ or not. If there were any doubt about our adoption into the family of God, how could we live with the confidence of which Paul writes? Christ has written a ‘new covenant’ in His blood, which we celebrate in Communion. We trust in His promise. But, knowing that He will ask about how we used the gifts of the Spirit invested in us, knowing that our lives will be an open book before Him, should be a powerful incentive to make the will and ways of our Father priority in life – now.
Why live at a distance from the Savior, taken up with the temporal things of life as if they were what really mattered? Too many do and then, when years advance, they try to cram for the exam, attempting to correct the neglect of earlier decades. That is impossible. Today’s opportunities are exactly that – of today! The past is over and done, and cannot be reclaimed. The future is not ours yet, but we have this day. The counsel of the Word is that we ought to “Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.” (Colossians 4:5, NLT)
As you read this word from the Word, ask the Lord for a faithful, steady heart, a willingness to do what He asks today. Jesus said that we could ‘lay up treasure in Heaven,’ and, by His grace, let’s do it. “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (1 Corinthians 3:11-15, NIV)
No cramming for us as we near the test. Instead, let’s live with the holy confidence that comes from a faithful life, well-lived – for the glory of God.
Take My Life
(a prayer in song, a reworking of the beautiful hymn)
Take my life and let it be consecrated
Lord to Thee
Take my moments and my days
Let them flow in ceaseless praise
Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee
Take my voice and let me sing
Always only for my King
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee
Take my silver and my gold
Not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use
Ev’ry power as You choose
Here am I all of me
Take my life it’s all for Thee
Take my will and make it Thine
It shall be no longer mine
Take my heart it is Thine own
It shall be Thy royal throne
Take my love my Lord I pour
At Your feet its treasure store
Take myself and I will be
Ever only all for Thee
Chris Tomlin | Frances Ridley Havergal | Henri Abraham Cesar Malan | Louie Giglio
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