Choices and Rewards

David CerulloBy David Cerullo8 Minutes

Lasting Consequences

I once heard about a gardener working for a large estate in northern Italy who was giving a visitor a tour of the beautifully manicured grounds. Just before the tourist left he said, “Let me commend you for the fantastic way you keep up the property. It’s perfect!” Then he asked, “By the way, when was the last time the owner was here?”

The gardener paused for a moment and replied, “It was about ten years ago.”

Surprised at the answer, the visitor asked, “Then why do you keep these gardens in such immaculate condition?”

“Because I’m expecting him to return,” responded the groundskeeper.

The visitor continued, “Is he coming next week?”

The gardener shrugged his shoulders and answered, “I don’t know exactly when he is coming, but it could be today.” Instead of looking down the road impatiently waiting for his master’s return, the gardener was busy at his work, trimming the hedges and planting flowers.

The Great Separation!

My friend, we are about to experience the soon return of our Master—and the day is closer than we can imagine. The Lord declares: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Revelation 22:12).

You may respond, “Wait a minute! That sounds as though the ‘reward’ could be amazing or awful, depending on how we live on earth.” This is exactly true.

In His parable concerning the sheep and the goats, Jesus explains what is going to occur. He says, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:31-32).

Jesus continues, “and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’” (vv.33-34).

Eternal existence is waiting for every person. “These [speaking of those who did not serve the Lord] will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (v.46).

You Will Be Repaid

When Jesus was invited to eat at the home of a prominent man, He asked His host to give a banquet and invite the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind, “and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righ-teous” (Luke 14:14).

The word Jesus used for “repaid” is apodidomaiapo meaning “back” and didomai meaning “to give.” The Lord was telling the man, “For what you give, you will be given back.” It’s the same word Jesus used in telling the story of the Good Samaritan: “When I return I will repay you” (Luke 10:35). And Jesus tells us, “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward” (Mark 9:41).

Payday is coming! One day soon, we all will stand in the Presence of God, and He will reward us for the choices we have made and the actions we have taken here on earth.

What About Deeds?

Let me remind you again that your choices not only determine where you will spend eternity, but how.

Many Believers aren’t concerned about what awaits them “on the other side”—their primary concern is knowing that they are going to Heaven. They’ll be surprised when they stand before God and realize their rewards are not based simply on salvation. Remember, Jesus has already paid that price for you, and your faith in Him gains you entry into Heaven. Once there, you will be judged based on what you did as a Believer: your works and the Seeds you have Sown. Yes, every man will be repaid “according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:27).

To put it as simply as I know how, your eternal destination is based on your belief—and your actions based on your beliefs. For example, God’s Word says, “If you confess [action] with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe [belief] in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

The consequences of this decision will determine where you will spend your everlasting future. The other choices we make in life—including our behavior—unlock the door to Heaven’s rewards and determine how we will spend eternity. Your actions in this life have a direct bearing on what Heaven will be like for you.

The Ultimate Reward

I hope you realize how close we are to the Second Coming of Christ. The Bible tells us what is about to take place: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Even as I write these words, God is putting the finishing touches on your reward. Jesus says, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

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