In my mother’s early days of Alzheimer’s, we talked about losing our memory. Her spirits were high, and I could say things like, “I have trouble remembering the past, so if I lose my short-term memory, my mind will be a total blank.” We both laughed, but that scenario really isn’t funny. It does happen.
This morning I read this passage of Scripture and thought again about the things that can be lost, not merely memory but what could be lost at the judgment seat of Christ.
God reminds me that there are two judgments. One is the Great White Throne judgment described in Revelation. In that judgment, the people involved have said NO to truth, either to the fact of God, or the fact of their sinfulness, or to God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:11-12)
Notice that this is about those who were ‘dead’ and not in God’s book of life. Verse 15 says, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” And later, after a description of God’s eternal city, the Word of God says, “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27) The book of life is for believers in Jesus Christ and the Great White Throne judgment is for those who are not.
Today’s reading uses a Greek word “bema” to describe how Christians will be judged. This is to evaluate what we have done with our lives and not about faith in Christ or our eternal destiny . . .
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 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. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:10–15)
This means that all I do in the will of God and relying on His power will pass the test of fire but everything I do in my own will and strength will not. All flesh and selfish activity will burn up and be lost. My salvation is secure, but not anything that was rooted in my old nature.
Some of the junk that will be lost is obvious to me. Things like prideful boasting, self-pity parties, ego trips, and all that ‘look at me’ stuff is wood, hay, straw — even if I do it after honoring and relying on Christ in some way. As for the gold, silver, and precious stones, I cannot evaluate that. To do so would be foolish. This is God’s business for I’d only start patting myself on the back.
Lord Jesus, this is a difficult and even precarious area of thought. It is too easy to put myself on that bema seat and try to figure out the worth of my life — but doing that is totally not my place. Neither am I supposed to focus on all my mistakes for that also is not my place (Satan is the accuser) and very self-centered. I’m glad You will make these decisions. I’m also glad that, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Add to that Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 4:3: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself.” This fits exactly what I need — trust in You and avoid any of that “how am I doing” thinking!