For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thess. 2:19-20
What will be your source of joy when the Lord Jesus appears in His glory?
Barry McGuire recorded a song in 1973 titled “Enter In.” In it, he tells of three men who each come to stand before the Lord to “give an account of his life.” The first man is Jack Campaign, “a wicked man [who] stole from friend as well as foe” and who “never cared for anyone.” When he stands before the Lord, he cries, “I’m sorry. I don’t want to die.” But the Lord’s reply is, “Sorry, it’s too late. I never knew you, depart from Me!”
The second man is John L. Jones. He was “considered a good man by all the people throughout the land.” But John L. Jones “had the good book on the shelf” and he “lived for himself.” When he stands before the Lord, he says, “I went to church, you know, I paid my tithes.” But the Lord’s response to him is, “Why?” And the Lord says, “Sorry, I never knew you. Depart from Me!”
The third man is C.T. Studd, who was a real person and a missionary to China, India, and Africa. The song describes him as “a humble man [who] served the Lord both night and day… all his life he lived to honor Him and at His feet he learned to pray.” When his day came to stand before the Lord, the song tells us, “with tears of joy streaming down his face” he says, “My King died in my place!” And the Lord says, “Enter into the Kingdom, my friend.”
In this little musical parable, C.T. Studd’s tears of joy originated not from his accomplishments, but from the assurance that he was saved by faith in Jesus Christ.
What about you? What will be your source of joy when the Lord Jesus appears in His glory? When the Lord returns–which may come sooner than you think–what will you plead? Will you be like John L. Jones, who trusted in the fact that he was a “good Christian” living a comfortable Christian life? Like him, do you keep your “good book on the shelf?” Or are you allowing it to saturate your heart and life?
Not every one of us is called to live the missionary life of C.T. Studd, yet it was not his calling, but his heart-relationship with his Lord which was the determining factor in his life. It was not that he lived the life of a missionary, but that “he lived to honor Him” and that “at His feet he learned to pray.” Have you learned to sit at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to speak to you in prayer? Are you seeking to honor God? Or, like John L. Jones, are you living for yourself?
In the verse I quoted at the beginning of this article, the Apostle Paul talks about another source of joy he looks forward to experiencing at the Lord’s coming. It is the joy of standing together in the presence of the Lord with those he had influenced for the sake of Christ. He said they would be a crown of exultation for him, his glory and joy. What about the people you influence? Which of them will stand with you in the presence of the Lord on the day of His appearing and be your glory and your joy?
The time is growing short, but it is not yet too late. Are you ready for His appearing?