In the Scriptures we will cite here, Jesus is teaching his disciples to be ready for His Return in the last days. Many believe that we are now in the last days before the Second Coming of the Messiah.
Luke 12:35 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, 36 like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. 37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. 38 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.
48…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Believers in the West, especially in the United States, have generally been given much. We enjoy freedom to worship and to serve the Lord. Teachings relevant for believers on every important subject found in Scripture are readily available to us for spiritual growth and discipleship. The level of material prosperity and comfort we enjoy are the envy of the rest of the world. Many would like to come to the United States to pursue and enjoy the “American Dream.”
The flip side to God’s material blessings in this life
Yes, we in America have been given much, and we sincerely thank God for that. But there is a flip side to this. Jesus teaches us that the unprecedented blessings are actually a trust to us from God. In the legal sense, a trust is “property or interest held by one person for the benefit of another.” Therefore the earthly blessings have actually been entrusted to us for the benefit of the Lord. And Jesus warns us that when much has been entrusted to us, much more will be demanded.
It would therefore be unwise to conclude that we in the West enjoy God’s blessings to such an abundant degree simply because God loves us so much. Rather we should view His blessings not so much as things to enjoy in this life, but rather as things entrusted to servants which we are use to produce good fruit for Him before His Return. We servants will each appear before the judgment seat of Christ where we will each receive our eternal reward from Him according to what we have done with what He has entrusted to us. (This reward is in addition to salvation—which is by grace through faith and not by our works.)
2 Corinthians 5:10 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.
We can now better understand the flip side of God’s blessings in this life. The more blessing we have in this life, the more accountable we are to God in terms of producing good fruit for Him—upon which the determination of our eternal reward at the judgment seat of Christ will be based.
We must therefore store our treasure in heaven
Let us believers in the West therefore adopt a sober-minded attitude toward the “good life” which we enjoy. It’s not because we had the “good luck” to be born or to live in the United States. Rather through His blessings in this life we are given the extraordinary privilege of obeying the Lord and serving His interests fruitfully while on earth. Among other things, we are especially to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples of all nations before the great and terrible day of the Lord.
We are to see the Lord’s blessings in this life (in whatever form they have been given) as capital by which we are to work fruitfully and reap our eternal reward in full—which Scripture teaches is authority to reign with Christ in His kingdom. We are to store our treasure in heaven. Using our treasure primarily for transient comfort in this brief life on earth is extremely short-sighted.
The Lord warns us not to make the mistake of seeing his blessings primarily as the means of enjoying life in this world.
Luke 12:48…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
The disappearance of the American Dream
Like Israel in the Old Testament, so is America. When she trusted and obeyed the Lord, Israel was blessed materially. But in time she would invariably take God’s blessings for granted and forget the Lord, going after idols. Destruction by her enemies would follow, bringing Israel back to the Lord in repentance. Given human nature, this cycle is inevitable. And as it happened to Israel it appears to be happening now to America as is apparent from current events.
Let believers in America take advantage of their material blessings and use them for the advance of the kingdom of God before the blessings are taken away from us. When that happens, to our regret there will little treasure for us to store in heaven in order to receive true riches in eternity.
Luke 16:9 I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings. 10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? 13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”
Even though our salvation in heaven may be secure, we might yet suffer loss of eternal reward.
1 Corinthians 3:13 …their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
Let us always keep in mind how Jesus suffered and sacrificed Himself on the cross to grant sinners the free gift of eternal life. It is completely in order that we the beneficiaries of His grace should now seek to serve only His interests in this life on earth.
More on Eternal Reward: Your Place and Standing in the Next Age