As believers, even though we are exempt from God’s condemnation, we are not exempt from His evaluation. Accordingly, not every believer receives an equal reward. Even among athletic champions, some do better than others and everyone is rewarded according to their achievements. Similarly, someone like Mother Teresa who sacrificed her life giving to the poor, isn’t going to receive the same reward as someone who spent most of their life sitting on the couch playing Xbox?
The Bible teaches that our expectation of this future judgment inspires us to live for the Lord in the present age. Paul calls such motivation, “the fear of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:11, NASB). Christians can be saved, forgiven, and on their way to heaven, but still live for worthless things — and many believers do! And though we will give an account one day, this reckoning will not deal with individual sins already forgiven by God. Those sins are gone! No, we will give an account for the way we lived our lives as redeemed children of God — for the things we did with the time, opportunities, resources, gifts, and grace God put into our hands.
At Christ’s Judgment Seat, some will receive more rewards than others and some will even be ashamed — which brings up a crucial distinction: When it comes to salvation, it’s not about works at all. However, when it comes to eternal rewards, it is all about works. Thus, we would do well to beware that we don’t get caught up with the cares of life — the day-to-day activities, the pointless amusements, and worthless distractions that consume the days, weeks, months, and years of our lives yet have no eternal values.