In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him.1 John 4:17
I doubt if there is a single person who does not realize, deep in his or her heart, that at the end of life there is an accounting. We must stand before the Lord our Maker. It does not make any difference whether we are Christians or non-Christians. Regardless of the type of relationship we have with Him, we must all come face to face with the Lord Himself. He stands at the end of every path we may be taking today, and we must come at last to a day of accounting.
We cannot help but ask ourselves how we will do in that day. Can I pass that unconscious test that Jesus speaks of in Matthew 25, when He stands to judge the nations and divides the sheep on His right hand, the goats on His left? He will say to the people on his right,
Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world(Matthew 25:34). Why?
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me (Matthew 25:36). Do you remember their reaction?
Lord, when did this happen? We weren't aware of it. We don't remember seeing You; we don't remember doing these things.
Then He says to those on his left,
Depart into everlasting judgment. Why?
Because when you saw Me weak and sick and in prison, you did nothing about it. You passed on your way, you showed no concern, you displayed no compassion, you did nothing. Again, remember that they say with surprise,
Why, Lord, when did this happen? We don't have any memory of it. If we had seen you, we'd have done something, but we don't even remember seeing you (cf. Matthew 25:41-44). The searching revelation of that passage is that this is now happening all about us. Christ is in all these situations of need, and when we are confronted with someone who has a need, it is Jesus who is asking our help. Our reaction to that person is our reaction to Him.
Therefore, is there not a question in each heart now:
When I stand before Him like that, will I pass the test? Am I recognizing these situations now? John says it is love
perfected that gives us confidence in the day of judgment. Love that is perfected is love that is made visible in deeds. Therefore, note what John is saying:
If you want to have confidence in the day of judgment, then let love express itself, let it be perfected, because it is when love is perfected with us that we have confidence for the day of judgment.
Now you can see what confidence this gives in the day of judgment. If He is going to look at my life and see the activity of Himself in me, then He will not deny Himself at the day of judgment. I know that what I am doing, if it stems from this source, is wholly acceptable to Him.
Father, don't let me take these words lightly. The problem is not others, but rather my own unwillingness to show love to those who do not do the things I like and do not act the way I think they ought to act. Forgive me, and teach me to love.
What happens when we die? Where do we find the knowledge to confidently answer this question? Are we making ourselves available to Him who loves through us?