The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not obvious cannot remain hidden forever. (1 Timothy 5:24-25 NIV)
Two principles in the realm of actions and morality are: (1) our thoughts will determine our actions and (2) our actions will eventually be revealed.
The influence of our thoughts: We are drawn away by our lusts and enticed to sin (James 1:14). We who have trusted in Christ for our salvation, and possess both the new nature and the presence of the Spirit in our lives, have the potential to be drawn toward the things of God and toward sacrificial service for Christ (2 Tim. 1:7). Our lives consist to a large degree of what our thoughts will make them. The mind set on the Spirit is life and peace:
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom. 8:5-6 NIV)
If we will set our hearts on Christ, our affections on Him, and if we will live in faith and commune with His Spirit daily, we will find an increasing appetite for the things of God exists and even grows in our hearts. This anonymous little poem says it well:
Two natures beat within my breast
The one is foul, the one is blessed
The one I love, the one I hate.
The one I feed will dominate.
So it begins on the inside of us. An impatient man is first impatient in his inner thoughts, and a patient man is first patient in his inner thoughts. Whether or not our thoughts are placed upon the grace and mercy of God, whether or not we dwell in our minds daily in the assurance of His acceptance of us through Christ, of His love for us, of His call upon our lives, and of His promises to us will determine what we do with our lives.
The revealing of our actions: Eventually, either here on earth or before the Judgment Seat of Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:10), our actions will be revealed for what they are – the thoughts and intents of our hearts. All of us live with some degree of pretense, hiding from others the lusts and pride of our hearts. We may take care of these things that are hidden from others by confessing them to God and receiving His cleansing (1 John 1:9).
But eventually, who we really are on the inside is revealed through our actions – our weaknesses, our lack of faith, our anger and fear, the impure things of our life – or the good and righteous work of the Spirit assuring us of God’s love, which will be acted out in graciousness and righteousness.
Our fears can take a verse like this above and produce a sense of dread to stand before Christ and have our lives examined. But God does not give us “a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). And when we stand to be judged by Him, we are before our Savior and our Redeemer who loves us with an eternal love – love of eternity past that stretches out into eternity future. Though there should be a healthy respect for these matters and reverence toward God – the fear of the Lord – God did not give us this teaching to create in us an insecurity about Him. We can trust Him entirely.
Notice that the good is rewarded, and that is the major focus of this passage. Even a cup of cold water given in the name of Christ is not forgotten but is rewarded (Matt. 10:42). The old adage – “Be sure that your sin will find you out” – is only half of the truth. The reality is that our good works done in humility for the sake of Christ also find us out. This is reason for you to rejoice and relax in Christ, and enjoy your Christian life. God calls us to joy.