Matthew 7:2 God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. On Judgment Day, we will face the consequences of our actions. We will feel the joy we gave when we helped others, and we will feel the pain we caused when we hurt others. Therefore, as Matthew 7:12 advises us, do for others what you want them to do for you.
We will also feel the ripple effect of our actions. When we smile at someone, hold the door open for someone, or do something nice for someone, we brighten that person’s day; then perhaps that person feels better and does the same for others, who, in turn, do the same for still more – this is a ripple effect; there are ripple effects for good actions and bad actions. Although we are not responsible for someone else’s actions, we are responsible for how we treat others. If the way we treat people affects the way they treat others, we will feel the ripple effect of our actions. Luke 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that make people fall into sin are bound to happen, but how terrible for the one who makes them happen!”
In order for fairness and justice to exist, the consequences of our actions will depend on our knowledge and circumstances. Consequences based on knowledge… As I stated in my post “What We Have Been Given,” if more is required from someone given more and much more is required from someone given much more (Luke 12:48), then it follows that less is expected from someone given less, and much less is expected from someone given much less. If a person is severely mentally retarded or if someone is kidnapped at birth and isolated and abused, they will understand that they did not realize what they were doing when they hurt others (if they hurt others) because they were not given the same awareness or knowledge as others. Their realization that they did not know any better will help them work through and release any pain they caused others.
In this same way, the significance of grace is apparent. Before we knew Christ, we may not have had the knowledge to live as Christ taught. Luke 23:34 Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” The pain we will feel related to our negative actions will be based on our knowledge of whether or not we knew it was right or wrong. If we had not accepted Christ at that point, we may not have realized the action was wrong or may not have realized how much damage and pain the action would cause. If that is the case, we will understand that we did not know any better, and this will help us work through and release any pain we caused others before we accepted Christ. When we accept Christ and His teachings, we are saved – Ezekiel 33:19 When an evil man quits sinning and does what is right and good, he has saved his life.
After we accept Christ, when we hurt others by mistake, we will realize that we are not perfect. Our acceptance of Christ will lead us to ask forgiveness and to attempt to correct our mistake. Our realization that we are not perfect and our attempt to correct our mistake will help us work through and release any pain we caused others by our mistakes. If we hurt others intentionally, we are choosing to turn away from God. In this instance, we must repent, ask forgiveness, attempt to correct our mistake, and try to do better in the future, and this will help us work through pain we caused someone intentionally. When we repent and ask for forgiveness, we are forgiven because God loves us unconditionally. Although forgiveness absolves our misdeeds so that we are pardoned of the related sins, forgiveness does not remove our misdeeds from the past as if they never happened. Even though our misdeeds still exist, forgiveness allows us to be able to work through and release the pain we caused others – just as here on earth, forgiveness allows us to work through and release the pain others caused us. On the other hand, if we choose not to repent, ask forgiveness, or attempt to correct our mistake, then we are choosing to continue to turn away from God. Ezekiel 33:19 When a righteous man stops doing good and starts doing evil, he will die for it.
Grace does not mean that we will go to heaven regardless of what we do after we accept Christ. Grace delivers us from sin and gives us the motivation and strength to live as Christ taught, and living as Christ taught leads us to do good. After we accept Christ, if we choose not to follow Christ’s teachings, then we are choosing to turn away. As I discussed in my post “Hell Is for Those Who Turn Away,” someone who turns away from God is choosing life without God, which is hell. God loves us regardless of our sins; even if we choose to turn away from God, God still loves us – He has unconditional love for us. However, even though God still loves us, God does not stop us from turning away from Him. His unconditional love for us is grace – if we choose to turn away from God, we are turning away from grace, too.
This does not negate that we do not have to do good works to earn salvation. In Luke 23:42-43 when one of the criminals crucified with Christ asks Jesus to remember him, Christ promises that the criminal will be with Him in Paradise. The criminal did not have a chance to do good works after he accepted Christ; so if good works were required, he would not be able to go to Paradise. However, had the criminal not died by crucifixion, grace would not only have delivered him from his sins, but grace would have also given him the motivation and strength to live as Christ taught, which would have led him to do good.
Consequences based on circumstances… Luke 21:1-4 Jesus looked around and saw rich men dropping their gifts in the Temple treasury, and he also saw a very poor widow dropping in two little copper coins. He said, “I tell you that this poor widow put in more than all the others. For the others offered their gifts from what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, gave all she had to live on. (also Mark 12:41-44) A person who lived in extreme poverty during their life on earth may feel intense joy at giving a dollar to someone in need because they would understand that they gave a significant amount based on what they had available to them. On the other hand, a person who lived in excess during their life will not feel the same amount of joy for giving a dollar to someone in need, even if it is the same person to whom the poor person gave a dollar; on the contrary, they may experience pain because they would understand that they could have given significantly more without even affecting their life of excess. This is acknowledged in Luke 16:19-31 in the passage about the rich man and Lazarus.
Luke 6:20-21 Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “Happy are you poor; the Kingdom of God is yours! Happy are you who are hungry now; you will be filled! Happy are you who weep now; you will laugh! For those who suffered or had a hard life, simply being done with the suffering and hardships will give them relief, rest, comfort, and joy. Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away all tears from their eyes. There will be no more death, no more grief or crying or pain.
Those who helped the needy will also experience relief, rest, comfort, and joy. Matthew 25:34-36 Then the King will say to the people on his right, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father! Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you ever since the creation of the world. I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes, naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me, in prison and you visited me.” Instead of using those resources for an easier life or for a life of excess, they gave to the needy. By doing without those resources and through empathy for the needy, they shared in the suffering and hardships of the needy, so they will share the relief, rest, comfort, and joy of the needy. Proverbs 19:17 When you give to the poor, it is like lending to the Lord, and the Lord will pay you back.
Luke 6:24-25 But how terrible for you who are rich now; you have had your easy life! How terrible for you who are full now; you will go hungry! How terrible for you who laugh now; you will mourn and weep! Those who had an easy life or lived a life of excess, are not likely to be relieved that their life on earth is finished; rest, comfort, and joy from being done with hardships and suffering will not exist for them. Instead they will relive the times they ignored the needy and the pain they caused the needy by ignoring them. Matthew 25:41-43 Then he will say to those on his left, “Away from me, you that are under God’s curse! Away to the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry but you would not feed me, thirsty but you would not give me a drink; I was a stranger but you would not welcome me in your homes, naked but you would not clothe me; I was sick and in prison but you would not take care of me.”
Matthew 19:23-24 Jesus then said to his disciples, “I assure you: it will be very hard for rich people to enter the Kingdom of heaven. I repeat: it is much harder for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. As I discussed in my post “If Heaven Were a Lollipop,” in general, it takes less for someone who has nothing to be happy than it does for someone who has much. Those who had nothing will be happy with little joys but desensitized to little pains; whereas someone who had plenty will not be desensitized to little pains and, in addition, will need more joy to be happy. The harder your life was the more desensitized to pain and suffering you will be, whereas the easier your life was the more desensitized to joy and rest you will be.
Proverbs 22:22-23 Don’t take advantage of the poor just because you can; don’t take advantage of those who stand helpless in court. The Lord will argue their case for them and threaten the life of anyone who threatens them. For those that took advantage of the poor and needy, the pain will be even worse. While those who ignored the needy will feel the pain they caused the needy by ignoring them, those who took advantage of the needy will experience additional pain due to the injustices they inflicted on the needy. Proverbs 17:15 Condemning the innocent or letting the wicked go – both are hateful to the Lord. Psalm 82:2-3 You must stop judging unjustly; you must no longer be partial to the wicked! Defend the rights of the poor and the orphans; be fair to the needy and the helpless.
So… our actions will be judged according to our knowledge and circumstances, and our degree of reward or punishment will be based on this. The more joy we gave, the more joy we will feel – when we gave joy to others, we will feel their joy and understand that our actions gave them joy. Our righteousness will be evident to us, and we will feel worthy to accept God’s love. In contrast, the more pain we caused, the more pain we will feel – when we caused pain to others, we will feel their pain and understand that our actions caused them pain. We will be filled with shame for these actions, and our shame will make us feel unworthy to accept God’s love – shame will cause us to turn away from God. In addition, the easier our life was, the more joy it takes to make us happy and the less pain it takes to hurt us, while the harder our life was, the less joy it takes to make us happy and the more pain it takes to hurt us. Wisdom 11:20 You could have pursued them with your justice or struck them dead at the slightest hint of your power. But you have chosen to measure, count, and weigh everything you do.
Depending on our knowledge and circumstances, we may or may not be able to work through the pain we caused others. If we honestly tried to live righteously, as Christ lived and as Christ taught us to live, we will be able to work through the pain we caused others, and in doing so, we will be allowed through heaven’s gate to experience the joy of heaven – 1 John 3:7 Whoever does what is right is righteous, just as Christ is righteous. Otherwise, our shame will make us turn away from God, and then we will be cast into the fire of hell and tormented throughout eternity with the pain we caused others and with the shame that we were not worthy of heaven. Matthew 25: 45-46 The King will reply, “I tell you, whenever you refused to help one of these least important ones, you refused to help me.” These, then, will be sent off to eternal punishment, but the righteous will go to eternal life.
Consider that the pain and shame are the fire of hell. Mark 9:48 There ‘the worms that eat them never die, and the fire that burns them is never put out.’ The worms that eat them are their misdeeds – they relive the misdeeds ceaselessly, so the worms never die. The fire that burns them is the pain they now bear due to their misdeeds as well as the shame related to their misdeeds – since they relive their misdeeds ceaselessly and since there is no way to escape and no where to hide from the pain and shame of their misdeeds, the fire that burns them is never put out. They are further tormented by the realization that their choices led them to their eternity of pain and unrest and that they are forever excluded from the rest, comfort, and joy of heaven.
Closing – If we receive in eternity what we gave on earth and if we live the opposite in eternity of what we lived on earth, inequalities disappear, and truth and justice reign. Am I saying this is the way? NO, I am not. I am merely saying this is a way to make life and eternity fair and just. For me, just knowing that a fair and just way exists gives me peace – so, for any of you that need to know that a fair and just way exists…this is for you.