I once met an Olympic athlete who let me hold her gold medal. I told her, “If I had won this medal, I would wear it everywhere.” The Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius” is Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” I think that could be a Christian’s motto, too.
When I am running this race of life as a Christian, I don’t want to settle for mediocrity. I don’t want to settle for second best. I want to make my life count, up to the very end of the race, because when this life ends (and it will end for all of us), we will face the judgment.
For the Christian, however, it will be more like an Olympic ceremony or even an awards ceremony. The judgment that Christians will face is not about whether they will get into heaven, because this judgment takes place in heaven. One day, Christians will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NIV).
In the Olympics, athletes might receive a bronze, silver or gold medal. God will be giving out awards one day, too. Every sacrifice you have made, everything you have done for the glory of God, even if you did not receive recognition for it, is duly noted and recorded in heaven. God will reward you one day. In fact, Jesus said, “Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:4 NIV).
There are many times when you may do things but won’t get the credit you deserve. No one pats you on the back. No one says, “Atta boy!” Worse yet, someone else might get the credit. When you did that for God, when you made that sacrifice for him, when you honored him in that way, even when you resisted that temptation, when you took that step of faith and let God use you, it is noted in heaven. One day, you will be rewarded for it.
I don’t know about you, but when I get on a scale, I never like what I see. The number is always going the wrong direction. But on God’s scales, we don’t want to be lightweights. We want to be heavyweights. And by weight, I mean depth of character and commitment to Christ.
This is not about getting to heaven; this is about getting to heaven with something to show for the brief time we were on earth. If you don’t do much with what God has given you, by his grace, you still will get to heaven if you have put your faith in Jesus Christ. Getting to heaven is not based on what we have done for God; it is based on what God has done for us.
This is the hope of the Christian. But if you are not a Christian, you don’t have this hope. If you are not a Christian, you cannot assure yourself that you will get to heaven, because there is no such promise. In fact, to be quite honest, the default destination of any person who rejects Jesus Christ is a place called hell. That is the last place God wants anyone to go. Do you think if God didn’t care, he would have sent his own son to suffer and die in our place on the cross and bear the sins of the world? God loved us so much that he poured his judgment and wrath upon his own son so we don’t have to face hell. Jesus, who died for us on the cross and rose again, stands at the door of our lives and knocks. He says, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in” (Revelation 3:20 NIV).
Our presence in God’s kingdom is guaranteed by his promises. But our position in his kingdom will be earned or lost by the quality of service we render here and now. Salvation is a gift. But these rewards come as a result of faithfulness.
It is not about having more rewards than someone else. Just focus on being faithful in what God has called you to do. Don’t try to do what God has called someone else to do; do what God has called you to do. You have your place where you live and where you work, your family and your friends, and your sphere of influence. Go into your world and do all you can for his glory, and the Lord will reward you openly.
The Bible reminds us, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV).
One day, life will come to an end. If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, you will go to heaven. If you have not put your faith in Jesus Christ, you won’t. You determine where you are going to spend eternity. You decide whether you will go to heaven or hell. By accepting Christ, you know you will go to heaven. Heaven is not for good people; it is for forgiven people.
You may be a pretty good person. You may be relatively good. But you are just not good enough. You still fall short. All of us do. We all sin. But God has taken care of that by sending his son, Jesus, to die for our sins. You can ask God to forgive you so you can know you are right with him.
Are you running in the race of life right now? Maybe you have been running in it, but you’ve been slowing down a little. Maybe you’ve thought, “I’m a little winded. I’m getting on in years. I think that I’ve run so well for so long that I’m going to slow down. I’m going to sit down for a couple of years.”
But if you run in first place for nine-tenths of the race and bail out at the end, it doesn’t count. You have to cross the finish line.
It is not enough to start this race. You have to finish it. Fix your eyes on Jesus. He will give you new energy, excitement and power to run for him. Faster, higher, stronger.