Going for the Gold By George Stroh, Senior Pastor March 1, 2010
"... On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of Godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come." (1 Timothy 4:7-8)
I was watching the Olympic Games the other night. The winning athletes were standing on the victory platform receiving their rewards, the coveted bronze, silver and gold victory metals. They stood there with much joy, overcome with emotion as the crowd cheered and the gold metal winner's national anthem was played. For these athletes this moment of glory was the culmination of years of hard work, training and bodily discipline. I'm sure that these young people, and their families, must have given up much in order for them to reach this ultimate level of success. But I'm also sure that they would say; "It was all worth it!"
As I watched this Olympic reward ceremony, I was reminded that someday we Christians will also be judged; For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad." (2 Corinthians 5:10). The word translated "judgement" is the Greek word "Bema" meaning a raised platform... This is known as the Bema Seat of Christ. Only Christians will appear before the Lord at the Bema Seat judgement to receive victory crowns-- rewards for our faithful acts of trusting and obeying the Lord.
Like the Olympic Games, at the Bema Seat judgement, some will receive more honor, rewards and recognition from the Lord than others. No one at this judgement will lose their salvation or eternal life, but some will suffer the loss of precious rewards; "... each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
I think many of us have greatly underestimated the tremendous honor and glory of receiving these rewards (victory crowns) from the Lord. If there are any regrets in heaven, it will be that we failed to earn more rewards at the Bema Seat judgement. We can learn some important lessons from the Olympic champions; " Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way, not as beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)
Some of us are very competitive when it comes to sports or business or games. But how about the ultimate competition and ultimate judgement when we will appear before the Bema Seat judgement of Christ? Are you running in such a way that you may win? Forget your past spiritual failures and focus on the time you have remaining and the race before you. It is not too late for you or me to gain more eternal rewards by trusting and obeying Him in all things and at all times. On your marks, get set... Go! Maranatha!