‘So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God’ ~ Romans 14:12
If the Christian life could be summarized in two words, it would be intentional living. It is not a haphazard kind of life as many think it to be. The world views Christians as those unrealistic people who look forward to a fantasy world that may not even exist, and worship what they cannot see- but they are quite mistaken. Actually, the Christian life is living the real life in a fantasy world, in a fleeting world. Believers worship a God we clearly know, which the world chooses to ignore or have no clue about. While they ‘worship what (they) do not know; we know what we worship’ (John 4:22). We worship what we know and have become fully convinced of. Living out this life contrary to the world systems and perception becomes the greatest undertakings one can ever make. That is why Paul describes the Christian life as a race and a battle. Thus, Believers are likened to soldiers, marathon runners, and boxers. Paul says, ‘I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 3:14). He proceeds, ‘Therefore I do no run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air’ (1 Corinthians 9:26). So, we Believers are intentional about our lives because we know that God ‘will surely demand an accounting’ (Genesis 9:5) from humanity.
All Believers look forward to a blessed hope, because eternal life in Jesus is the whole point of our salvation. For ‘if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith’ (1 Corinthians 15:14). So, in our journey to eternity, we come across treasures that strengthen us, until we eventually reach the eternal Kingdom. The caveat, however, is that these treasures are not deposited along the way, nor are they visible in any way. Rather, they are found within us and extracted along the way by the power of the Holy Spirit. But first, this calls for an awareness, knowledge, and an intentionality in actually using them. These treasures exist in all humanity because God pre-deposited them in us. The measure in which we successfully excavate ALL that God has placed in us is how we take stock of our lives. It is how we ‘lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’ (Matthew 6:20).
For a Believer to effectively take stock of life Paul notes, ‘No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs – he wants to please his commanding officer’ (2 Timothy 2:4). This is not to mean that Christians should not participate in normal life. It only means that our priority is the eternal Kingdom, and not the affairs of this world. In other words, our view of success differs from the world’s, and more importantly, the role of God in our lives differs, because He takes centre place. We execute God’s will before anything else, for we are soldiers under the greatest Commanding Officer. Paul continues to expound, ‘Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes to the rules.’ (v5). We ought to finish the race by the directives God has set in place. Jesus Himself tells the Father, ‘I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began’ (John 17:4). In a like manner, Paul says, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing’ (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Taking stock of our lives in the right way begins with our perception of God. Paul notes that only those who long for God’s appearing can finish the race. In other words, those who; believe that God once step foot on earth in human form, died to redeem us from sin, resurrected to give us new life, and will appear again to judge the world and bring Believers to eternal life. Any other view of God apart from this is a false and distorted one, and consequently affects how we live out our life. When Jesus spoke the Parable of Talents, He highlighted the servant who did not fully use the talent of money which a master going on a journey gave his servants, ‘each according to his ability’ (Matthew 25:15). ‘After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them’ (v19). All servants showed their doubled talent of money except for the one of who said, ‘Master, I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you’ (v24-25). The servant’s distorted view of the master hindered his ability to multiply the talent of money entrusted to him. Likewise, some people do not realize the gifts that God has entrusted to them to achieve the purpose they were born for, simply because of how they perceive God. They end up not bearing fruit because they are not aligned with the ‘True Vine’ (John 15:1). To put it plainly, they do not believe in Jesus, or see that using their gifts for the Gospel is a waste of time and unprofitable, or they wait to give their lives to Christ after they have lived life to its ‘fullest’. Whatever the case, their distorted view of God hinders them from achieving their true purpose in life.
Salvation and belief in Jesus is only the first step in taking account of your life. There is more. Paul urges Timothy, ‘I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline’ (2 Timothy 1:6-7). Once we get saved, we do not just sit and look at the heavens waiting for the day that we will be magically taken up and live with God forever. In fact, when Jesus ascended, the two angels tell the disciples who looked on, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’ (Acts 1:11). Instead of looking up the sky, we need to fan into flame the gifts deposited in us for the advancement the Kingdom of God in whatever spheres we have been called to. We are also to use our talents and material gifts, and ‘be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life’ (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
Using our worldly wealth (tangible gifts) and spiritual wealth (intangible gifts) require courage, power, love, and self-discipline – all which the Holy Spirit ‘that is at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20) provides. We are to get deeper with the Source of our gifting through reading the Word, prayer, fellowship, and actually following God’s instructions by carrying them out. The more we know God, the more the ‘fruit(s) of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:22) become evident, because without them we cannot effectively carry out our mandate to begin with. Once we discover what is in us, we are to FULLY use it for the advancement of the Kingdom until our end- until we finish the race. For, ‘A curse on him who is lax at doing the Lord’s work’ (Jeremiah 48:10). We are to also ensure that as we discover and utilize our gifts, we are to guard them securely. Since the Christian life is like a race track and a battle field, which are action-packed, it becomes easy to lose track due to the distractions from the side-lines. So, we ought to be alert and ‘guard what has been entrusted to your care’ (1 Timothy 6:20). We ought to take stock of our lives.
‘For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ ~ Matthew 25:29-30
‘There are different kinds of gifts, but the same spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men’ ~ 1 Corinthians 12:4-6
‘Let each man abide whereunto he has been called’ ~ 1 Corinthians 7:20