THE POSITIVE SIDE OF JUSTICE
byPastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 25 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Justice)
"But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: or they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." Matthew 6:3-7
"But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." Matthew 6:17, 18
When we think of justice, most of us think of punishment. We think of a courtroom where someone is sentenced for a crime. Justice, however, is just as much positive as it is negative. If someone does something deserving of honor or reward, yet does not receive it, that is an injustice. Justice is not only the equaling of punishment to transgression, but it is also the equaling of reward to good work.
When I taught justice in the First Baptist Church, I began to feel guilty because for many weeks I taught from the negative side of justice without getting to the positive side of the ledger. Justice is the balancing of the equation, balancing the punishment with the transgression; but it is more than that; it is also the equaling of reward to good works.
Although most of us think of the negative side of justice, God does not. For example, in Galatians 6:7-9 the Bible speaks of God rewarding our good efforts. "Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
God has two judgments. The Great White Throne Judgment is that judgment which will determine the degree of punishment for the unsaved. There is also the Judgment Seat of Christ, where justice will be given to the saved in the form of rewards for the good which has been done.
Revelation 22:12, 'And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be." Revelation is a panoramic view of the second coming of Christ. There are two great mountaintops of His coming. First, there is the rapture when He comes for His own. Secondly, there is the revelation when He comes with His own to establish His kingdom. It is interesting to discover that Jesus brings with Him His reward, not punishment. Jesus is more excited about giving rewards than He is about giving punishment.
Our sins were judged at Calvary, but our works will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ. One thousand and seven years later, the unsaved will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgment. The positive side of judgment comes first with God. Justice to the doers of good is more important to God than punishment to the doers of bad. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all be like that! All of us should be more excited about rewarding good than about judging the bad.
II Corinthians 5:10, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."
The Apostle Paul is speaking here about saved people being judged for their works. Rewards are given for good works and taken away for bad works.
I Corinthians 3:8, "Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor."
You will not receive rewards by being associated with a church that does good works. You will receive rewards because of what you personally do that is good. Each of us will be judged individually for our own good works. The word "reward" means "wages." What does this mean? It means that although we will get to Heaven free of charge, we will earn our enjoyment of Heaven. We are now earning the wages (the rewards) we will be given later which will determine our degree of enjoyment in Heaven.
I Corinthians 3:9, 'For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."
For what labor will we receive these wages? We will receive wages (rewards) for the labor we do with God. If we labor in our own flesh, we will receive no rewards. To labor together with Him, we must labor in that which He labors. Christ came to save sinners, so the labor of God is the saving of souls. To labor with Him, our labor must be in the harvesting of souls.
The word "husbandry" means "God's tilled land." God wants to work in each one of us to bring Himself a "crop." We are the ground God tills to bring forth fruit. That is how we labor with Him, and that is how we receive rewards.
I Corinthians 3:10-13, 'According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man work of what sort it is."
The grace of God is our masterbuilder or architect. God is the architect Who draws the plans for our life and work. The way we get His rewards is when we labor with Him in the plan He has drawn up or designed for our lives. We get rewards for laboring in God's designed plan for our lives, which is to build upon the foundation of the grace of God.
Every work we perform will be made "manifest," which means "to put it under a light and judge it for its motive." If we build with wood, hay and stubble, it will burn; but if we build with gold, silver and precious stones, it will stand up to the fire. To receive a reward, our motive must be able to withstand the fire of judgment. We will get rewards only for the labor which we do with God and for God. We will not receive rewards for labor which is not done with Him and for Him.
I Corinthians 3:14, 15, "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."
If our work or labor is done with the right motive, we will be rewarded. If our labor is done with the wrong motive, we will suffer the loss of a reward. That is exactly what Jesus was teaching in Matthew 6. If our praying and fasting is done to impress men, our reward will be taken away at the Judgment Seat when our motive is put under the light and judged. If we fast and pray with a sincere heart to God and hide it from the eyes and attention of man, we will be rewarded at the Judgment Seat when our motives are put under the light of judgment.
The words, "suffer loss," mean "to lose something we already have." We can lose rewards that we have already earned by doing things in the flesh. In God's system of justice, we can earn rewards for works we do and then lose those rewards by doing other things in the flesh. We can also do things for God's glory that will earn back rewards that we have lost.
Let me tell you two ways we can lose our rewards.
1. Having fellowship with someone who does not believe in the doctrines of Christ can cause the loss of rewards. II John 8-11, "Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
If a person went out soul winning and led people to Christ, but had fellowship with someone who does not believe the doctrine of Christ, he would lose his reward for soul winning.
2. Not treating the insignificant servants of God right can cause the loss of rewards. Matthew 10:40-42 "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."
When the Bible speaks of "little ones," it is not speaking of children. It is speaking about God's servants. If we show a small kindness to insignificant servants of God, we will not lose our reward.
In conclusion, let me summarize the material in this chapter: (1) You can earn rewards; (2) You can lose those rewards; (3) You can counteract the loss; but (4) There is no sin to counteract. As a Christian, you will not be judged for your sins; yet you will be rewarded for your good works. The greatest damage of sin is that if you are doing what you should not be doing, you cannot be doing what you should be doing.
Our sins were judged on the cross, and we will never face them. Although we will not be judged for them, they will keep us from being co-laborers with God and from receiving rewards at the Judgment Seat. Sin hurts the Christian by causing us not to do the good works that would bring us rewards.
Four Practical Principles of the Positive Side of Justice
1. We should do the same with our children. One of the greatest sins of justice is that we punish for wrong without rewarding for right. My mother was the expert at giving positive judgment. She would praise me into doing right. It is God's plan to reward for good as much as punishing for bad. That is justice!
2. We should do the same for our pupils in school. Tragically, we label a young person as a "bad kid" for something he did that was wrong. We judge that child every time he does wrong, but we fail to be just each time he does right.
3. We should do the same thing with our families.
4. We should do the same thing with our friends.
I am glad that when I do something to lose a reward, there is something I can do to earn it back. That is what justice is really all about. Justice is equaling the punishment to the crime, but it is also equaling the reward to the good works.
Why should we want to get those rewards? Revelation 4:10, 11, "The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, 0 Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."
We should want rewards so that we can cast them at His feet.
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