How’s Your “Score” in the Contest of Life?
Did you happen to notice that life is not fair? Are you sometimes defeated by comparison, feeling that your life is insignificant in contrast with some of the “rock star” celebrities promoted in Christian circles? Do you ever wonder about what really matters most in the Christian life, church leadership, and daily ministry? Do you occasionally feel consternation about the superficiality and sizzle of some of the big and bombastic Christian enterprises that don’t seem to reflect the spirit of Jesus?
If not — congratulations! You are more spiritual than most. If so, I have a word of hope for you: The scoreboard is in Heaven and the Lord is a perfect scorekeeper. His criteria are not jaded by the superficial or based on external factors. Unlike flawed sporting officials, He never misses a call. He sees it all perfectly.
The scoreboard is in Heaven and the Lord is a perfect scorekeeper. His criteria are not jaded by the superficial or based on external factors. Unlike flawed sporting officials, He never misses a call. He sees it all perfectly.
The Score is Serious and Significant!
“Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love” (Psalm 33:18). “For his eyes are on the ways of a man, and he sees all his steps” (Job 34:21). “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good” (Proverbs 15:3). You may feel your service for Jesus goes unnoticed. It doesn’t. You may think that your faithful work in His name doesn’t matter. It does. God notices. He cares. He sees. He keeps score.
This is comforting for those who feel forgotten or overlooked. This is also riveting for those who play to the crowd or are driven by an ego-fueled quest for significance. Romans 2:16 reminds us of the eternal scoreboard when it says that God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus. Paul taught that the Lord “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God” (1 Corinthians 4:5). He also explained that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Remember the Rules!
Recently, while leading a day of prayer for a staff team in Indiana, I was drawn to meditate on these encouraging truths in the book of Hebrews:
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Hebrews 6:10-12).
Several summary applications blessed me. I trust they will help you as well.
You Have a Perfect Scorekeeper!
This world is patently unjust. God is perfectly just. People are often unappreciative but God is always attentive. He never overlooks our work in His name. He keeps eternal records of our service to others. Jesus assured His followers, “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (Matthew 10:42). Our faithful God sees, knows, and keeps track.
This world is patently unjust. God is perfectly just. People are often unappreciative but God is always attentive. He never overlooks our work in His name. He keeps eternal records of our service to others.
Motives Measure Big!
Motivation matters. We can do all the right things for the wrong reasons. This passage clarifies that God recognizes “the love that you have shown for his name.” A love for Christ and earnest desire for the glory of His name is the motivation that matters. The great commandment is to love Him foremost. Loving others follows, and is the fruit of a passion for Him. If we are motivated by lesser things (like the appreciation of others or self-validation) our motivation will wane and our reward will not be registered. Our proper focus is clear: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23–24).
Our Hope is Sure!
The writer of Hebrews further admonishes us to “show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end.” With our eyes on the eternal scoreboard and love for the name of the eternal scorekeeper, we can be earnest (diligent and eager) until we hit the finish line of life. We are propelled by this genuine hope. Regardless of the injustice or interference of this life, we remain true in loving service to our Lord and His people.
We Must Compete with Intensity!
This encouraging passage warns us, “so that you may not be sluggish.” Another version reads, “Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent” (NLT). The NIV states, “We do not want you to become lazy.” The lure of spiritual indifference is always present. Lethargic Christians have lost their grip on hope. Biblical hope propels us to eager service.
The lure of spiritual indifference is always present. Lethargic Christians have lost their grip on hope. Biblical hope propels us to eager service.
The final challenge in this passage calls us to be “imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” This verse does not specifically identify these “promise-inheritors”. Certainly they could be the Old Testament patriarchs like Abraham, Moses, and others. Hebrews chapter 11 describes some amazing heroes of the faith. We can be inspired by this cloud of witnesses.
We are all called to a “glorious finish” in this life! Sadly, we hear far too many stories of spiritual leaders who have disgraced the name of Christ and finished poorly. That’s why we are hosting a four-week coaching experience led by Daniel Henderson, for anyone in church leadership. This will be a study of his recent high-impact book. Space is limited. To find out more and register, CLICK HERE.
Imitate the Previous Contenders!
“Tell me your heroes and I will know you,” declared one writer. Television and other influences of secular media try to enamor us with celebrities who lack character, often the antithesis of faith and patience. But look around. I am sure you can identify some modern-day models who patiently serve the Lord. They live by a vibrant and sacrificial faith in Christ. These heroes will motivate you to focus on the heavenly scoreboard and trust the heavenly scorekeeper. They inspire us to remember that earnest faith may not always be easy, but it is always worth it.
I have been blessed by many examples of faith and patience: mentors, parents, in-laws, and godly pastors. Very recently, I spoke in a multi-church event in a smaller community in Eastern Canada. Quebec is the least-evangelized area in all the Americas. I was hosted in the home of a godly pastoral couple. They exhibited a passion for Christ, love for God’s word, earnestness in prayer, and sacrificial service for their congregation. You’ll probably never hear of them this side of eternity. They have not built a mega-million-dollar enterprise on the sacrificial giving of “donors.” Yet their gospel impact in the community is profound.
There Will Be Surprises!
As I survey the landscape of Christianity, and look at my own life, I am tested by Christ’s declaration that “the last will be first, and the first last” (Matthew 20:16). All the comparisons and judgments of the earthly arena, based on appearance and notoriety, will soon vanish. Our faithful and all-seeing scorekeeper will distribute a perfect eternal reward.
So press on in your quest toward the finish line, my friend. Cultivate a love for His holy name. Serve in hope. He sees. He is just. He rewards the faithful. It will be worth it all.
Press on in your quest toward the finish line, my friend. Cultivate a love for His holy name. Serve in hope. He sees. He is just. He rewards the faithful. It will be worth it all.
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