On Friday I joined the virtual service for our former Assemblies of God General Superintendent, George O. Wood. Dr. Wood led a full life, a distinguished leader known around the world. He led well and left many recognized accomplishments here in this world. Rick Warren put him in the same class as the late Billy Graham, which gives a sense of the reach of his ministry work. Then, on Saturday I conducted a funeral for another lady of the same age in a room packed with family and friends who remembered her kindness, her constant work of encouragement, and her devotion. Billie lived simply and largely out of public view.
So, which of these people did God welcome to His Presence with greater acclaim? The question is based on a mistaken idea that greatness in God’s kingdom is measured as we do – by numbers, fame, wealth, or influence. It is not. His reward is based on faithfulness to our task, the way we use our resources.
Billie and George stand on level ground before their Savior. Paul corrected the Corinthians who were admirers of worldly success. He taught them the Kingdom principle of faithfulness not ‘success.’ “Who is Apollos, and who is Paul, that we should be the cause of such quarrels? Why, we’re only servants. Through us God caused you to believe. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. My job was to plant the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God, not we, who made it grow. The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because he is the one who makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work as a team with the same purpose. Yet they will be rewarded individually, according to their own hard work.” (1 Corinthians 3:5-8, NLT)
Let me underscore an important fact here. We are talking about rewards in Heaven, not salvation! Nobody gets to Heaven based on anything other than by the gift of God’s grace, received by faith, fully provided to us through Christ Jesus. The inarguable fact is that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV) There is, however, an accounting that awaits, when we stand before Christ, our Savior. At that moment, it is faithfulness that matters.
Jesus told a story about it. The master of a household entrusted his resources to three people, each according to their ability. To one there were 10 shares, to another 5 share, and to another 1 share. The first two doubled their trust and returned the increase to the master when he returned. In spite of vastly different results, both were commended equally. “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” (Matthew 25:21, NIV) The third did nothing with his share, burying it in the backyard and returning only what he was given. He was called ‘wicked and lazy!’
There are many things to be learned from the story, but the most basic truth is that God seeks our faithfulness; where we are, with what we have. I like the homely phrase – He asks us to bloom where we are planted. As you begin this new week, offer yourself to Him. Don’t compare yourself to another. Be the best He created you to be. The faithful will stand together before Him, rejoicing in the Father’s love.
The word from the Word is a wonderful promise! “Now let me remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is built on this wonderful message. And it is this Good News that saves you if you firmly believe it—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2, NLT) “For our perishable earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die. When this happens—when our perishable earthly bodies have been transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die—then at last the Scriptures will come true: “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord! So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and steady, always enthusiastic about the Lord’s work, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (1 Corinthians 15:53-58, NLT)
(Video of this blog at this link)
Sing the wondrous love of Jesus
Sing His mercy and His grace
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place
When we all get to heaven
What a day of rejoicing that will be
When we all see Jesus
We’ll sing and shout the victory
While we walk the pilgrim pathway
Clouds will overspread the sky
But when travelling days are over
Not a shadow not a sigh
Let us then be true and faithful
Trusting serving every day
Just one glimpse of Him in glory
Will the toils of life repay
Onward to the prize before us
Soon His beauty we’ll behold
Soon the pearly gates will open
We shall tread the streets of gold
Eliza Edmunds Stites Hewitt
© Words: Public Domain