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Refining Grace

2-corinthians-12-10,9781400278183 Infinite Grace by Women of Faith


But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. — 2 Corinthians 12:9–10 (NIV)

My friend Lynda gave me a book in the late 1990s that was life changing for me because it showed me the grace of God through the eyes of the authors. My entire perspective of serving God and working for the kingdom was transformed from just being a servant of God to being a servant to God as well. It spelled out the significance of doing what I was called to do. It altered my perception of what the judgment seat of Christ will look like when our works will be tried in the fire before our Lord Jesus.

Romans 14:10–12 says, “For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat . . . So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God”. 2 Corinthians 5:10 tells us, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”. In the context of both scriptures, it is clear that the judgment seat of Christ involves believers giving an account of their lives to Christ.

The judgment seat of Christ does not determine salvation; that was determined by Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf (1 John 2:2), and by faith in Him (John 3:16). All of our sins are forgiven and we will never be condemned for them (Romans 8:1).

We should not look at the judgment seat of Christ as God judging our sins, but rather as God rewarding us for our lives. Understanding what the judgment seat of Christ is, this story in Rick Howard and Jamie Lash’s book This Was Your Life! turned my life around. Rick had a dream that he went to the judgment seat of Christ and was surrounded by people he knew. When it was his time to stand before the Lord, he thought he would be rewarded as the pastor of a megachurch and having fame in the media that surpasses many. He stepped up to Jesus sitting in the Judge’s seat and presented his works.

In this dream, Jesus tried Rick’s works in the fire—and they burned and burned and burned until nothing was left but a deep, black hole. The pastor stood there with a broken heart and asked Jesus why all of his works were burned because he had worked for the Lord all his career. Jesus told him that, no, he had not worked for the glory of God because God had told him to go into ministry on foreign fields. But because his wife refused to marry him if he went, the pastor had selected the woman over God. He had been responsible for millions accepting Jesus and for many great and wonderful works, but because the pastor did not accept the real calling of God and instead pleased his wife, his works were burned up like wood, hay, and stubble. Sure, the pastor entered into the kingdom of God in heaven, but he lost his rewards for the work he did on earth.

Rich also saw an old lady of no acclaim. Someone who was never written up in the paper, never appeared on television, did no radio interviews, and never spoke for a conference of any size. As she walked up to the judgment seat of Christ and presented her works to Jesus, they begin to burn. When they finished burning, what was left were stacks of gold, silver, and precious stones. This nobody on earth was rewarded at the judgment for edifying people while glorifying God. She received the rewards that Jesus will bestow at his judgment seat.

As Rich stood before the judgment seat waiting for Jesus to talk to him, there was a period of total silence and no activity. Disappointed and wondering, he woke up from the dream with no precise results.

I cried and cried after reading this story. I asked myself, “What if I worked all my life thinking I was working for the right cause for the right reasons only to find that I had worked in vain?” How awful it would be to think that you are working for the glory of God to find out too late that you’ve deceived yourself for decades.

As I lay on the bed weeping, I began to worship God for loving people enough to show them a glimpse of what the consequences are when you work the works of Him who sent you, even if you do so for the wrong purpose. There is no way that I can express my gratitude to God for his immeasurable grace. What a God we have to share one of the mysteries of the working for God without the baggage of doing things to be counted great among the people of earth. I learned that day that I must work for eternal value—nothing more, and nothing less. So I asked myself, how can I value the God of everything who has made everything for His pleasure? My answer includes His words:

Do not be conceited.

God’s grace is sufficient in times of trouble and affliction. The power of Christ rests upon you.

Be content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for Christ’s sake.

Know that when you are weak, God is strong. Glorify God in all your ways.

Folks, this is the kind of grace that cannot be measured. God’s grace has no limits. His favor has no boundaries. His love has no borders. There is no compromise in God. God’s grace is ours without asking for it. Everywhere we go, everything we do, every relationship, and every activity is covered by God’s grace. When things are going haywire in your life, it’s grace that keeps you from losing your mind. When financial problems seem to persist in your life, it’s God’s immeasurable grace that keeps you from going under.

When your health fails and you can’t get well, it’s grace that keeps you in perfect peace and restores your soul. This grace allows you to walk through the valley of the shadow of death without fearing evil. When your loved one dies and you think you can’t live without him, it’s God’s grace that sustains you and keeps you on your feet. When you’ve lost your job and can’t seem to find one that can support your lifestyle, it’s God’s grace that puts someone or some business on your mind and gives you the plan to succeed.

When your relationships are in an upheaval and your communication is faulty, it’s God who shows you how to conquer that situation. When your church is reeling from hurt and shame, it’s God’s grace that picks you up and turns things around and puts your feet on solid ground. In the face of wars and rumors of wars and people you care about are fighting on foreign fields, it’s God’s grace that stabilizes you and builds you up for the task of waiting. When you’ve made an unthinkable mistake and everyone else seems to set you aside, it’s God’s immeasurable grace that speaks forgiveness into your spirit and revives you again. Look at every situation in life that you can think of and view the immeasurable grace of God towering over us all.

Who would not long to live in eternity with a Savior and Redeemer whose love is so overwhelming, mercy so far-reaching, and favor so accommodating that they would give up their personal agenda to satisfy God’s? Our personal agenda as we work for the kingdom of God is not to satisfy ourselves with gladness and boasting about what we are doing for God, but to glory in the cross of Jesus, develop a meaningful relationship with Him, and give Him all glory and majesty for everything, every act, every deed, every work we are doing. We are anointed to serve the Lord with gladness, never serving ourselves because of His immeasurable grace.

It’s all about You, Lord. Help us to know that it’s not about us! The Kingdom of God is Your kingdom, and we have inherited from You our positions in Your kingdom. Thank You for allowing us to live with You forever while totally submitting to You while on this earth. Amen.

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Your Turn

Are things going haywire in your life? Are relationships in turmoil? Finances a mess? Health failing? Read 1 Corinthians 12:10 again and take a moment to thank the Lord for His presence in our crisis and for His refining Grace. Will you share with us your thoughts? Please leave a comment on our blog. We would love to hear from you!