Abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.
–1 John 2:28
Someday, all Christians are going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. One possible outcome of this judgment is rewards. Some Christians will receive special privileges, special positions, and special praise. The other possible outcome is regrets. Some Christians will stand before Jesus in shame.
In 1 John 2:28, the Apostle John said, “Abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.” Some Christians will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and as Jesus evaluates their lives, they will regret what could have been theirs had they been more faithful in their service of Christ. Paul wrote about that in 1 Corinthians 3:15: “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
You may say, “I thought Heaven was supposed to be a place of complete, unending joy. How can there be regret in Heaven? That does not make sense.” The fact is, joy and regret are two emotions that can exist at the same time. You can be joyful and regretful at the same time. Imagine your insurance agent calls you and says, “I have been looking over your homeowner’s policy and think you are underinsured. I think you need to increase your insurance by $100,000.” You say, “I will think about it.” But you never give it another thought. A few weeks later, you awaken in the middle of the night and smell smoke. You realize the house is on fire. You grab your mate and grope through the darkness to gather your children and get them out. As you stand on the lawn in your pajamas, you watch your house being consumed by the flames. Now what is your emotion at that moment? Certainly, you will be joyful that you and your loved ones escaped the fire unharmed. But don’t you think there will also be some regret when you see everything you own being burned up and realize you do not have enough insurance to cover it? Joy and regret can exist at the same time. It will be that same emotion for those who see their lives burned up at the Judgment Seat of Christ and being termed as absolutely worthless.
What about Revelation 21:4, which says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes”? Yes, God is going to do that for us. Revelation 21:4 occurs after the Judgment Seat of Christ, after the New Heaven and Earth. And while God will wipe away every tear, He will not wipe away the consequences of failing to win rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Those consequences last for eternity. We have to be careful. To overemphasize the regret at the Judgment Seat of Christ is to turn Heaven into Hell, but to underemphasize it is to make obedience in this life inconsequential. Rewards will matter. Rewards in Heaven are about trading the temporal for the eternal.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Will Heaven Be The Same For Everyone?” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2016.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.lockman.org)