Word of the Month

How is your work?

April 2006

In the last chapter of Revelation the Lord emphatically underscores the promise of His imminent return with the words: ?And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give every one according to his work? (Revelation 22:12). Here the word ?reward? does not mean to imply that we can obtain the right to eternal fellowship with the Lord through our works. What is meant by this reward is expressed in the words God once addressed to Abram: ?Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward? (Genesis 15:1). The Lord Himself will be our ?reward?! No one would be able to earn this reward through their works. After all, we are all sinners, and even with all our good works we could not hold our own before God. Such a reward can only be acquired through grace, not merit or works. That is why it is all the more astonishing that these words of the Lord in Revelation even make reference to our works. Does this mean they play a role in the end after all?

The Greek text of this passage uses the word ?work? in the singular, not the plural. This helps us understand what is meant. It is not a question of the works that we accomplish in the course of our lives. It is a question of the sum of these works ? our life?s work, so to speak, all that which our existence on earth will amount to in the end.

What was the life?s work of Moses? The sum of his life was his loyal service as a servant of God. It was not the individual deeds, which the Holy Scripture also mentions ? for example, that he killed a man and that he disobeyed God ? that constituted his life?s work in the end. Rather it was his exemplary loyalty! We could also mention Paul as an example. As an apostle he was a zealot for the Lord! Nevertheless there were also other times in his life. At the stoning of Deacon Stephen he looked on with satisfaction, and later he even persecuted the Christians. And yet the sum total of his life was not what happened over this period, but rather his fervour for the Lord.

What is the sum total of our lives? What will the caption over our lives say when we look back from a divine perspective in the end? How beautiful if it can be said: ?That was a hero of faith.? How beautiful it is when someone is the personification of peace, so that people can say: ?This was a child of peace,? or if it can be said in the end: ?He or she served the Lord with all his or her heart!? But our lives could also be captioned with another heading. I am reminded of the rich farmer of whom the Lord spoke in His parable. At the end of his life the caption was: ?Fool? (Luke 12: 20)! In other words, from a divine sense he missed the whole point of his life. He had only given thought to his earthly existence. There was nothing of any lasting value. That would be a bitter caption over our lives ?

Let us therefore take great care in how we live our lives. Does our existence revolve exclusively around the earthly? Are we only focused on things that we will have to leave behind in the end anyway? Or do our lives revolve around spiritual matters: our faith, the striving to be with the Lord and become worthy for the great day when God?s Son will appear?

Let us set our priorities in life in such a manner that our work will also be crowned with the reward that we all wish for in the end.

(From a divine service by Chief Apostle Leber)