For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
The final thought in this profound book of Ecclesiastes is a simple reminder of God as the Supreme Judge before whom we must all stand. To live successfully as a Christian means to keep the goal of responsible living by the grace of God before our eyes.
We do not emphasize the judgment of God as much today as the Bible does, and as believers have in the past. The cultural rise of our greater estimate of our humanity, us replacing God as the supreme being in many people’s minds, now demands that God answer to us, not us to Him – reversing the biblical emphasis. This has led not to responsible living but to the abuse of one another, of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. The more ungodly we act the less we feel the need to give an account to God. The unmistakable biblical emphasis is on the fact that there is a Judge to whom we must all answer, namely to God.
And, frankly, in the not too distant past of Christianity there has been an abuse of this doctrine of God as our Judge, neglecting the grace we find in Christ and His righteousness as a covering for our sins. Many of us, if not most of us, have personally felt the sting of legalistic Christianity – the opposite of grace. The biblical view of grace does not remove from us the obligation to live responsibly under the Lordship of Christ – in fact, it does the opposite, informing us that we are purchased by the blood of Christ and now belong to Him.
Along with the constant awareness of the love of God, the biblical view of life places this fact of God being our Judge in the forefront of our daily thoughts – whether we rise in the morning, work throughout the day, enjoy an evening with family and friends, or rest at night we should keep in mind that life is given to us as a trust by God, and we will give an answer to Him on how we have spent it.
The grace way of life calls us to be responsible and to live in the power of the Spirit. We can give proper attention to our work and to our service for Him – and our secular work is a form of our service to God (Col. 3:23) – and we can also enjoy life, using times of leisure for the re-charging of our emotional and spiritual strength. All work and no play makes for dull and less fruitful Christians. But all play and no service make for completely fruitless Christians. The best of all worlds is one that balances these two matters of service and relaxation in our lives under the Lordship of Christ, living responsibly and joyfully. This is successful Christian living.
Christ said to His disciples at Samaria, “I have meat that you know not of” (John 4:32), referring to the re-charging of His strength through service, not through leisure alone. But He also frequently led His disciples to withdraw from service and spend time in spiritual retreat, so there should be a balance of these in our lives.
The scripture teaches us that we must all give an answer to God. For the unbeliever, he just stand before the Great White Throne mentioned in Revelation 20:11-15. For us believers, however, we must stand before Christ or the “Bema” judgment. As we read in 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.” This judgment is not to determine our salvation, but rather to evaluate our lives, to identify where we were faithful and when we had failed to live up to the demands of God. I believe this judgement for the believer will be a mixture of positive and negative feedback, but the intent is so that Christ may affirm us for our faithfulness, to deal effectively with our moral failures.
Successful Christian living is lived in the grace of God in Christ, but also brings into the counsel of our thoughts the responsibility we have to live for Him. The basic positive nature of grace encourages us to service for Him, but it should also call us to daily live in a spirit of constant repentance and confession of our sins, receiving His grace minute by minute.
The judgment means that our lives count for something, that none of them are lived in the shadows, forgotten and insignificant. Judgment means something wonderfully positive, that your life is important to God and to the fulfillment of His purpose for the ages.