God is full of mercy and His judgment is always just since, unlike our brothers and sisters and everyone else, God looks at our hearts and does not judge by the outward appearance. There is considerable encouragement for us all here. It filled me with tremendous joy when I realised that our Heavenly Father not only sees the deep yearning of our hearts to be like Jesus, but He also imputes as righteousness our intense longing to be holy. What a relief this is! Let us bear in mind the reality of this as we delve deeper into what the Word says about suffering loss when the ‘wood, hay and straw’ in our lives will be consumed by fire at the Judgment Seat of Christ, just prior to the Bride’s marriage to Jesus and the Marriage Supper.
The Bible makes it clear exactly what the Lord will award crowns for in Heaven. To recap:
These crowns will be bestowed
The Incorruptible Crown (1 Corinthians 9:25). This is a special crown given for faithfulness in running the race and exercising self-control in order to serve the Lord and finish the race.
The Crown of Exultation or Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19; Philippians 4:1). This crown is a reward given for witnessing, follow-up, and ministry to others.
The Crown of Life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10). This crown is given for enduring testings (trials) and overcoming temptation.
The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8). This crown is a reward given for our faithfulness in using our gifts and opportunities in the service of the Lord, and for loving His appearing. Note that these two things go together; to love His appearing is to live in the light of it.
The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4). This crown is a reward promised to Pastors and Elders for faithfulness in the discharge of their responsibilities in shepherding their flock.
Further reward: our mansions in Heaven
Not only will each one of us be rewarded with a crown (or crowns) but, in addition, part of our reward will be the size, specification and grandeur of our personal dwelling place in Heaven. We can be certain that the Lord, Who knows us all so much better than we know ourselves, will bear in mind our individual taste in style, furnishings, colour and location of our new home. He knows whether we would like a stream or fountain in our garden, and if we would love to have a magnificent view of spectacular mountain peaks, or even the crystal sea. Jesus and our Heavenly Father are busy preparing all these things for us. Jesus told His Apostles in His final discourse, in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, that He was going to prepare a mansion for each one. See John 14:1-3.
How to minimise loss of reward
Living the lifestyle of the Beatitudes
3. Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [THOSE DEVOID OF SPIRITUAL ARROGANCE, THOSE WHO REGARD THEMSELVES AS INSIGNIFICANT], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
4.Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are THOSE WHO MOURN [OVER THEIR SINS AND REPENT], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].
5. Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are THE GENTLE, [THE KIND-HEARTED, THE SWEET-SPIRITED, THE SELF- CONTROLLED], for they will inherit the earth.
6. Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are THOSE WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, [THOSE WHO ACTIVELY SEEK RIGHT STANDING WITH GOD], for they will be [completely] satisfied.
7. Blessed [content, sheltered by God’s promises] are THE MERCIFUL, for they will receive mercy.
8. Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart, THOSE WITH INTEGRITY, MORAL COURAGE, AND GODLY CHARACTER], for they will see God.
9. Blessed [spiritually calm with life-joy in God’s favour] are THE MAKERS AND MAINTAINERS OF PEACE, for they will [express His character and] be called the sons of God.
10. Blessed [comforted by inner peace and God’s love] are THOSE WHO ARE PERSECUTED FOR DOING THAT WHICH IS MORALLY RIGHT, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].
11. Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you WHEN PEOPLE INSULT YOU AND PERSECUTE YOU, AND FALSELY SAY ALL KINDS OF EVIL THINGS AGAINST YOU BECAUSE OF [YOUR ASSOCIATION WITH] ME.
12. Be glad and exceedingly joyful, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for in this same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:3-12, AMP.
Note: The capitals are mine, to emphasise the qualities in our lives that will be rewarded in Heaven.
The teaching of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount is extremely important, and it is with these words that Jesus began His significant discourse. If we are endeavouring to make this our lifestyle, our reward in Heaven will be great. The Beatitudes are a big key.
Further keys to minimising loss of reward
It is grievous to God if we ourselves take any credit for the work He is doing through us. This applies to fruit that we may bear, by His grace, in our ministry for the Lord, and also for success we may achieve as we develop the gifting and talents we have received from Him. God has said, “I will not give my glory to another” Isaiah 48:10, KJV. If we do not carefully observe this Scripture we will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Testimony: Giving glory to God in India
Many years ago, when my husband and I were working as missionaries for Jesus in India, we were asked one Sunday morning to pray for an elderly disabled lady. This poor soul was suffering horrendously because she could do nothing at all for herself. She was unable to use her very painful, badly deformed hands in any way whatsoever. She could not dress herself, or hold anything at all, and had to be spoon fed by her family. She could only sit, walk or lie down, nothing else. She was totally dependent on her long-suffering family.
We prayed for this dear lady, asking Jesus to heal her in His mercy. The Lord moved powerfully that Sunday and we watched as this lady’s deformed, misshapen hands gently became normal before our very eyes. Overcome with joy, she threw herself on the floor and began to kiss our feet. Horrified by this reaction, I said to the pastor whom we were helping, “Quick! Tell her to get up! We did nothing ourselves — please explain that it was Jesus Who healed her!” The lady got to her feet, beside herself with joy. If she had not stood up immediately we would have knelt on the floor with her. It is paramount to give all the glory to the Lord.
My husband and I had done nothing extraordinary; exactly the same thing would have happened to you if you had been in our shoes, and leaning heavily upon the Lord as we were. We had merely asked Jesus to heal this poor little old lady, expecting Him to do so. I learned very early in my Christian life that childlike faith works. To me it is as simple as this: just as a little child knows that Daddy will do what he has promised to do, and will even tell anyone who will listen, “Daddy’s going to give me …” or “Daddy’s going to take me to …” Little children know for certain that Daddy will never let them down. Likewise, as Christians, we know that Abba, our Heavenly Father, will keep every one of the promises in His Word. He always responds to faith. Jesus said to the two blind men, “According to your faith be it unto you” (Matthew 9:29). To His disciples Jesus said, “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matthew 21:22).
A judgmental attitude inevitably causes loss of reward
We must be extremely careful with our words. King Solomon succinctly wrote, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” Proverbs 18:21, KJV. Whenever we point a judgmental finger at a brother or sister in Jesus, we are hurting our Lord. We are one Body in the Lord, and Jesus is living inside each one of us, so when we judge a fellow believer it is as though we are judging the Lord; this is grievous to Him. Judging others will inevitably cause loss of reward.
Let us endeavour to shut down conversations that aim to tear others down; this includes disciplining ourselves not to gossip. So often we can find ourselves justifying what we are saying about others by calling it ‘an update’!
What are we thinking in our heart?
Our thought life can cause far more damage to others, and to ourselves, than we realise. Thoughts become words and thoughts also become actions. Solomon wrote “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7, KJV. What we think about (i.e. our thought life) determines the kind of people we will become.
A W Tozer said, “What’s closest to your heart is what you talk about, and if God is close to your heart, you will talk about Him.”
If we made the effort to train our minds to think only about beautiful things we would soon be speaking much more like Jesus. And we have already seen that our thoughts can become our actions (just as what we are thinking becomes the words we speak). So if we changed our way of thinking, we would eventually find ourselves doing what Jesus Himself would do, as well as speaking more like Him.
With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can be “transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.” This means that we can literally change the way we think and, by the grace of God, will no longer be “conformed to this world” as Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 12:2.
The counsel that Paul gave in Philippians 4:8 (below) is nothing less than life-changing. This is the very thought life of Jesus!
Living the crucified life
“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me” Galatians 2:20, KJV.
How ‘dead to yourself’ are you?
I remember very well how this came to be written in the late 1980s. My husband and children were soundly asleep, and I was lying prostrate on the floor in the middle of the night having a lovely time with the Lord. I had a notebook and pen beside me on the floor, ready to write what the Lord said. He began talking about being ‘dead to myself.’ I jotted down what He said and, as it meant so much to me to get it all down correctly, I asked Him to repeat it all and He did. This still challenges me enormously and I see here the significance to our present theme.
How ‘dead to yourself’ are you?
To be dead to self means to be on the Cross with Jesus, doing nothing to retaliate when people mock you, hurt you, criticise and judge you unfairly.
It means to pray for them, bless them and show only love for them, thinking not at all of yourself and the hurts they may be causing you so undeservedly.
It means not to want to be right, not to justify yourself, nor even to think about yourself and your situation.
It means not to talk about yourself, and not to seek attention.
It means there is no more self – it is dead: buried with Christ in His death.
How ‘dead’ are you?
Do you still smart when others are unkind and overlook you?
Do you still long to be noticed, to be appreciated, to be thought well of?
Jesus made Himself nothing for you; He made Himself of no reputation. He stooped far lower for you than you will ever be called to do, and in the midst of His agony His only thoughts were of love for His enemies.
How ‘dead’ are you?
Does it still matter to you to have your own way, to have things go well for you?
Does it still matter to you to hear your name mentioned in praise?
Can you joyfully let your will, even your deepest desires, be utterly crucified on His Cross?
Can you say, and mean, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me?”
Only through death comes life. Are you willing to be that grain of wheat which falls into the ground and dies? If it does not die it abides alone, but if it dies it brings forth much fruit.
Are you willing? Are you willing to be made willing?
More guidelines to minimising loss of reward
#. Are we living holy lives?
“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:14-24
#. Are we availing ourselves of the grace of God?
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 9:12 “Ye have not because ye ask not.” James 4:2
#. Do we obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit instantly?
“Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.” John 2:5
#. Are we careful about the words we speak?
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue ” Proverbs 18:21
“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matthew 12:36
#. Do we do everything without complaining?
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Philippians 2:14-15
#. Are we obeying the teachings of the Bible?
“Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” James 1:22
#. Are we using the talents and gifts we have been given?
See the Parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30
#. Are we covetous: always wanting to upgrade to bigger and better things?
“Let your conversation [way of life] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5
#. Are we building up a large bank account, though Jesus told us to give freely to the poor and needy?
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:19-20. See also how Jesus commended the poor widow who gave all that she had. (Mark 12:41-44).
#. Have we abandoned our First Love?
After commending the church at Ephesus for their many good deeds, Jesus said, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come into thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” Revelation 2:4-5
#. Are we seeking the approval of men or of God?
Jesus said, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26
#. Is Jesus really our life?
“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:4
#. Are we distancing ourselves from the ways of the world?
“I will set no evil thing before mine eyes.” Psalm 101:3
Have we realised yet that entertainment is the devil’s counterfeit for joy? The Bible states that “The joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10
The heart of man readily idolises high achievers: great sportsmen, film stars, singers etc. In fact, we frequently hear the term ‘pop idol.’ This should make us think – but does it? However, if we are struggling here, abundant grace is always freely available to us if we humble ourselves and ask Jesus to help us.
The worldly church
These are many Christians who are living for themselves and not for the Lord. They are following whatever is socially acceptable nowadays, using the false reasoning that “everyone is doing it.” They may attend church when it suits them but they rarely pray, unless desperate. These Christians cannot be raptured because they are not like Jesus; and He is returning for a Bride who resembles Him.
The fierce purging of the Tribulation years should bring them to Heaven eventually, shining like gold, if they remain faithful. However, if they persist in living with a partner to whom they are not married, their eternal destination will be Hell. Apostle Paul makes this absolutely clear when writing to several of the churches on the acts of the sinful nature (KJV: works of the flesh).
Most Christians know it is the will of God for us to be holy, and some can even quote 1Thessalonians 3:4. But how many know what the whole of the verse says? “This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you abstain from fornication.” Fornication is sex outside of marriage (living with a partner to whom you are not married).
The Bible states that this will inevitably lead to the unending torments of Hell. In fact, every one of the many sexual deviations leads to Hell [See below]. People refer to their lifestyle as ‘freedom’ but in fact it is the very opposite! Sin does not make us free, it enslaves us. When we are entrapped by sin, we are crucifying Jesus over and over again as we love the very sins for which He suffered unutterable agony on the Cross to save the world.
The heart of Jesus is breaking over His children who are living in sexual immorality. He longs for every one to enjoy the bliss and the tremendous fun He has prepared for us all in Heaven.
Let us bear in mind these words of Jesus: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat… Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven.” Matthew 7:13-21
This brings us straight back to 1 Thessalonians: “This is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication” 1 Thessalonians 3:4
Paul also wrote on this subject to the Galatian church: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness…. they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
And to the Corinthian church Paul wrote, “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders… shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9, NIV
The Bible could not possibly be clearer on these sins, and the ultimate destination to which they lead.
Note from So Greatly Loved
Writing this post has been a huge challenge to me. I have not written from this perspective before. For my own benefit, I shall probably have to refer back again and again to the words written here. I have had to lean very heavily on Jesus for help in writing this. May He have mercy on us all and grant us much more grace.
Further help will be found in previous posts. ‘Jesus, dress me now in the Armour of God’ throws light on how to protect ourselves from the onslaughts of the enemy. I pray this beautiful prayer every morning. It was written by a fellow prayer warrior of mine and shared with her permission.
‘Childlike Faith Works’ has two personal testimonies of mine which illustrate the effectiveness and simplicity of believing like a little child.
In ‘Going Deeper’ I previously shared ‘How dead to yourself are you?’ and also a heart-cry to the Holy Spirit to work more deeply in my life (‘Spirit of Burning, Come’). Both were written in 1989 and continue to be an enormous challenge to me.
A final word of encouragement:
Scripture quotations marked TPT are from The Passion Translation New Testament with Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs, translated from Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic texts by Dr Brian Simmons. Copyright 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing Group, LLC. Used by permission. All rights reserved. thePassionTranslation.com
Scripture quotations marked AMP are from The Amplified Bible copyright 1954 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. Used by permission.