On January 31st I wrote a blog about why Dr. Earl Radmacher was right when he said that for the believer this life is “training time for reigning time.” In my blog I discussed the fact that while all believers will be in the kingdom, not all will rule with Him and of those who will reign, some will rule over many cities and some over few (or one). I suggested our ability to serve Christ then will be directly related to how well we serve Him now.
Then today I received these questions about that blog:
Alarming topic. I am a Christian, an older man. How do I know I have served God well? I am made of clay, like all of you. I have had good, bad, and horrible days here on earth. What is serving God? Every day, I tell Him I want to be just like Him, but honestly, I am nothing like Him. I feel like He will be generous if He lets me be the ticket taker at the entrance to heaven while I watch Paul, Moses, Peter, and others, exchange inside jokes with the Lord off in the distance. The party will happen but not with me; I will be bussing the tables in the heavenly kitchen. I don’t know if I used my talents. I take a lot of naps. How can I judge myself in this area and start damage control for the remaining years I have? Any insights you have would be appreciated.
Wow. Those are great questions.
I too struggle with these same concerns. So I think I can answer these questions both from Scripture and from my own experiences as well.
How do I know if I am serving God well? I do not. I can know that I am serving Him, that I am walking in the light, and that I’m in fellowship with Him. But that doesn’t mean that I’m serving well. Paul says that we do not know how our judgment will turn out (1 Cor 4:1-5; 9:27). But we can know that right now we are attending church regularly, accepting Christian instruction, and confessing our known sins.
Serving God is things like praying, attending church with an open heart and mind, giving money to your church, to missionaries, to rescue missions, to needy people in our church and family, etc. It is teaching your children about the Lord. It is teaching other people’s children, and other adults, about the Lord. It is sharing your faith with all who are open. It is loving your spouse and your children. It is being honest. It is using your time, talent, and treasure to do those things which God commands us to do.
In one sense you are correct, none of us is like the Lord. He is eternal, immutable, impeccable, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, etc. We are not. But in another sense, we are like Christ when we love others, when we pray, when we give, and so forth. We are not sinless. We are imperfect. But as we manifest Christ’s characteristics on earth, we are Christ-like, at least in a limited sense.
I like your admission, “I take lots of naps.” God knows us well. We are each accountable for our potential. What we experienced as children may have enhanced or reduced our potential. But whatever our potential, we should seek to realize it. Time for rest and recreation is not bad. But we need to avoid spending all our time napping. It sounds like you serve God, but fear your rewards will be embarrassingly small. The truth is, we should anticipate great grace at the Bema. If it were not so, then no one would get many rewards, not even the super saints you mentioned.
“How can I judge myself in this area and start damage control for the remaining years I have?” What a super question, whether you are 85, 75, 65, 55, or 15!
Keep it simple saint (the KISS method). Are you laying up treasure in heaven (Matt 6:19-21; Luke 19:20-26)? You are if you are giving money to a solid Bible-teaching church. You are if you are giving money to help needy people in your church and family. You are if you are using your time, talent, and treasure to help others, both believers and unbelievers.
Prayer is a ministry that pleases God. Are you taking at least a few minutes each day to pray for your family, friends, people at church, your church, etc.? That is an eternal investment too.
The older we get, the harder it is to do all that we would like to do. I remember a story about President Roosevelt’s (FDR’s) greatest advisor, Harry Lloyd Hopkins. While I don’t agree with the politics of either man, I love the story about Harry. He had stomach cancer in mid-1939 and his health declined. He nearly died in late 1939. Doctors gave him just four weeks to live. But FDR intervened, doctors gave Harry blood plasma, and his health improved somewhat.
According to one report I read, during his last years—he died at age 55 in 1946—he was only able to work two or three hours a day. According to another report I read, Peter Drucker said Hopkins could only work a few hours every other day. Despite the few hours he could work daily, Churchill reportedly said that Hopkins “accomplished more than anyone else in wartime Washington.”
Our aim should be to do our best each day until Christ returns for us or until we die. Our strength may fail. We may not be able to do all we want to do. But let’s do something for Christ each day. Pray, give, love, encourage, tell the truth, be kind, etc.
Once when I spoke on the Judgment Seat of Christ at a church in Marshall, Texas, a women in her mid-60s came up to talk afterwards. She said, “I really wish I’d known this truth when I was younger. But I know it now. And I resolve to make the most of the years I have remaining. I want Him to say, “Well done, good servant.” That is the spirit. Do the best you can for as long as you have left. And leave the results to God.
You may find that you will be one of the highly rewarded ones. Maybe you are too hard on yourself. Maybe, like me, you are a perfectionist. Realize that we are not our own judges. The Lord Jesus is. And He is very gracious.
I hope this helps you do your best no matter how many days, months, or years you have left.