“He says, ‘Because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free’” (Ephesians 6:8 NLT).
God created a perfect world and a perfect people, which is symbolized in the Garden of Eden (presence of God or heaven) and Adam and Eve (humanity). But God gave us free-will, which is symbolized in our choice to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve (humanity) chose to indulge in the tree’s fruit (Genesis 3.6), which symbolizes evil (anything with absence of Good or God), so now Adam and Eve’s eyes are open to both Good and Evil and they lose their righteousness and see their shame (Genesis 3.7). Their sin creates a separation between them and God (death) because God is perfect and nothing imperfect can dwell with Him (Genesis 2.17). Adam and Eve must leave the Garden of Eden (presence of God) and enter into the World where both good and evil dwell (Genesis 3.23 & Matthew 13.30).
However, God knew that we would use our free-will to create both good and evil, so He also put the Tree of Life in the Garden, which symbolizes Jesus – one of the three God-heads who became human to wash clean the evil that humanity creates. (The other two God-heads of the Trinity are God the Creator/Father and the Holy Spirit the Counselor (Matthew 28.19) – three beautiful ways in which our God interacts with His us). Because of sin, Adam and Eve can no longer partake of the Tree of Life (Jesus) in the Garden of Eden (Heaven), so the Tree of Life clothes Himself in flesh, walks the earth and dies for our sins (Philippians 2.6-8). The Tree of Life comes to us!
Jesus died to redeem the effects of our free-will; and in doing so, He erased every single evil (absence of God) we create in this world once we accept Jesus as our Savior and receive God’s Holy Spirit (1 John 1.9). Jesus also perfects every single good (presence of God) we create, so they look like flawless gems to the Father. We have only one chance — one life — to present Jesus with the flawless gems we produced with our free-will once we get to heaven (presence of God). As believers we will not be judged by our sins (they are erased), but we will rewarded for how we used the gifts and talents God gave us on earth.
By the grace of God we have been given a foundation on Jesus Christ, but this foundation is only the beginning. God desires us to build something beautiful during our short time on this earth that glorifies Him. At the world’s judgment in the final days, every person who has lived will be accountable to the “quality of each person’s work.” Our sins — laziness, pride, indifference, gluttony, selfishness, insecurity, fear, mistrust, lust, greed, malice, covetousness, worry, entitlement – will be void and clear, but what else will we have to show for our gift of life? The greatest tragedy for Christians will be to reach Judgment Day (Romans 14.10) and all their hard work on earth will be destroyed by death. Jesus’ blood erased all their sins, but their eternal work rooted in obedience to the Holy Spirit is heartbreakingly small.
We must base our hard work on eternity because anything created to please this temporal world will be burned up by the fires of judgment. The Enemy knows that he can’t stop Christians from dwelling with God in Heaven once we die (John 10.28), so he will do his hardest to make sure we have nothing to show for our life here on earth. He will sedate us with pleasures, fill us with worries, tame us with fear, and try to focus our energy on self-glory — anything to prevent us from giving our free-will over to the will of God. The Enemy knows that if we are submitted to the Holy Spirit, our Free-will will be used for the purposes of God who will deposit our hard work in a heavenly vault with eternal rewards (Romans 2.6, Galatians 6.9 & 1 Cor 9.25).
I believe one of the biggest reasons Christians hold back from truly living for God is fear of making mistakes; but when we fear our mistakes, we lessen the all-encompassing power of the cross. Jesus’ blood beautifies everything we create for the Father. The Father does not see our misshapen, discolored gems of good works we struggle to produce for Him out of obedience to the Holy Spirit; rather, He sees flawless, stunning gems that shine His glory to the world. If we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins and ask Him into our hearts, the Father sees everything we produce through the lens of Jesus’ righteousness and perfection. When we find ourselves before the Father, we can show Him our life’s work of faith, and He will be well pleased to honor us with eternal rewards. Let’s not waste a single moment!
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. – 1 Corinthians 3.10-15