Warning! These words sound harsh…
Warning! These words sound harsh, but perhaps all of us who claim to be Christ-followers could use a “heart check” as Chip Ingram suggests. In his book God: As He Longs for You to See Him, writes : “Ask yourself this question: If I continue to live for ten, thirty or fifty years with the same priorities, the same use of my money, the same use of my time, the same use of my gifts, the same passions and my energy going where it has been going, will I hear a “well done” when I come and bow before Christ? Or will I hear, “What in the world did you do with what I gave you? How, in light of all eternity and what I did on the cross, could you live such a self-centered, self-focused, pleasure seeking life and actually be one of my children? You are saved and forgiven and you will spend eternity with me, but you were an embarrassment to the kingdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 3:12+ assures us our salvation is secure even if what we build upon our foundation in Christ is shoddy. Our heavenly rewards will reflect that. “ Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
It would be unfortunate to live as a Christian embracing a theology that does not include intentional sacrifice for the well-being of others. Really, how much like Christ is that? I am most definitely not saying as some might, “Jesus is coming, look busy,” nor am I unaware that salvation is solely by grace, through faith. Living selfishly versus selflessly would be unfulfilling as well, but for those who live according to self-serving priorities and who forsake the giving of their time, money, gifts, passions and energy as referenced earlier by Ingram, they likely would not know would what fulfillment really means with respect to living in Christ-likeness, would they? One must get wet to enjoy the ocean.
The purpose of the “heart check” Ingram encourages is to see how our hearts align with Jesus and his purposes. In Matthew 25 Jesus’ distinction between sheep and goats rests on people’s willingness to invest themselves where needs are visible. The cop out of the “goats”was they didn’t see Jesus himself in need so they didn’t budge. Jesus’ rebuke to them was when you saw people needing food, drink, shelter, clothing or compassionate companionship, you were seeing him!
Now I know most who read this are Christians. I get that. But I’m likely not “preaching to the choir,” nudging folks who can’t use some nudging. How would the excuses and rationales we might hear today stack up? I don’t have time. I’m too old to be useful/to do that. I’m too young to make a difference. Others can do this better than I can. I’ve done all that before, now it’s someone else’s turn. (Are we taking turns?) You’re talking legalism, I have faith!
Part of our problem might be we never fully allowed God to cultivate the heart He desires to develop within us. When we fall in love, and most of us have, our hearts compel us do some pretty outrageous things for our love object without reservation. Could you pray “Jesus, before the curtain falls, before the whistle blows, before my season of opportunity is over, please adjust my priorities? Help me now to orient my time, money, gifts, passions and energy for your purposes.” What are you waiting for? Think About It.