My husband and two older kids build plastic models for fun. They also enjoy entering their models in contests. We recently returned from our family vacation to Virginia, where the three of them entered the national contest. There were 1600 models there with contestants from all over the country and some from outside the U.S.
The models were divided into different categories and judged against a set of guidelines. The judges look for how well the models are constructed, the quality of the paint job, as well as the scope of the work. Did the ship include rigging? Did the plane have a camouflage paint scheme? Did the modeler build certain pieces from scratch?
At the end of the convention, there’s an awards banquet where each person finds out how their models did. The winners receive awards.
This year, our daughter did not place in her category, much to her and our disappointment. Our son won first place with one model and third place with his other. My husband won first place in his category and then went on to win the best ship award.
Our first Sunday in church after we got home, the sermon was on heaven and the different judgments for those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and those whose names are not. (Revelation 20:11-15)
For those who know Jesus and are written in His book, our pastor was trying to describe how it’s not a judgement of punishment, since Jesus already paid for our sin. What he described kind of sounded like the awards banquet at a model contest – just on a MUCH grander scale. This judgment is also known as the bema seat of Christ. The word “bema” refers to the the platform where the winners of athletic games went to receive their victory crowns.
What we do for God here on earth will be rewarded, like my son and husband were rewarded for their work. My daughter didn’t earn an award and she was very disappointed, but she wasn’t rejected or punished. She just didn’t get rewarded.
When Jesus rewards us for our work on earth for Him, thankfully there will be more than just first, second, and third place! In Virginia, we were able to peek at the possible awards before they were given out, but we don’t know what kinds of rewards Jesus will have for us. Maybe when we get to heaven, before the awards banquet, we’ll get to peek.
We are saved by grace, not by works. But we are rewarded by what we do.
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Revelation 22:12
It’s a challenge to me to spend my days wisely, following Jesus and living, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the way He would have me live.