Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
— 1 Corinthians 4:5
Located in the very heart of Moscow, Russia, just minutes away from the Kremlin, is the world-famous Bolshoi Theater. It hosts some of the finest opera and ballet productions in the entire world, and world-class singers and dancers regularly grace its stage. My wife loves opera, and I occasionally take her to the opera as a gift.
I am always in awe of the wonderful, God-given talents of these performers. However, one aspect about these operas that has always impressed to me is the response of the audience when they hear a singer who gives an outstanding performance. When the performance concludes, the enthusiastic crowd rises to their feet and boisterously thunders, “Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!”
As they shout their approval, they also clap their hands together in unison to give a mighty applause that seems to go on forever!
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When the evening’s performance finally draws to a close, the singers return to the stage for one last bow to the audience. As they walk past the curtain, the crowd rises to its feet and begins to riotously cheer and applaud once again, and from all over the front of the auditorium, patrons vigorously fling huge bouquets of flowers at the feet of the artists. Within a few moments, piles of flowers are scattered across the front of the huge stage. As the applause and adulation begin to wind down, beautifully dressed ushers walk onstage to personally deliver magnificent bouquets that were bought for the singers by devoted fans who wanted to show their appreciation through an extravagant gift.
At the end of the night when the curtain falls for the last time, the singers return to their dressing rooms to change out of their costumes and have their cosmetics removed, and the audience files out of the theater to go home.
Ultimately, this experience persists only as a memory in the minds of those in attendance. The rounds of applause, praise, approval, and adulation were wonderful while they lasted, but they never last long and are soon forgotten. However, there is an applause that will last for all of eternity — and that is the applause that comes from God Himself.
A day is coming in your future when you will be called on stage before God to give account for your life. Sitting in the audience, He will watch as the activities of your life are reviewed. In First Corinthians 4:5, the apostle Paul wrote about that moment, saying, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.” This verse clearly reveals that the secrets and motivations of your heart will be made known as you stand before God on that day.
Notice the last phrase of First Corinthians 4:5, which says, “…And then shall every man have praise of God.” This word “praise” is translated from the Greek word epainos, which actually means applause. However, it isn’t singers, ballet dancers, or entertainers who are being applauded in this verse — it is believers who have lived holy, consecrated, dedicated, obedient lives.
Paul used the word epainos to evoke a very strong image. By using this word, he let us know that a day is coming when we will give account for our lives. On that day, if we have lived right before God and the motives behind our service were pure, we will receive praise from the Lord Himself. It will be as if He rises to His feet to give a round of applause and a standing ovation! In fact, Paul’s imagery is so strong that the verse could be loosely interpreted, “…And at that time every man will have the applause of God.”
Think of God rising to His feet to give a standing ovation! Can you imagine the thunderous sound of His hands clapping as it reverberates and echoes throughout all of Heaven! That is precisely the picture the apostle Paul paints for that day when faithful believers stand before Him! The magnitude and nature of that divine applause will far surpass anything given by a human audience!
The truth is that much of your hard work and preparation unto the Lord is done in secret behind closed doors. When you accomplish something for Him, people are often unaware of your actions or perhaps simply forget to show their appreciation. However, according to Paul’s teaching in First Corinthian 4:5, a day will come when God Himself will personally rise and thank you for everything you have done in the name of Jesus for the advancement of the Gospel.
There is a massive, silent army of believers today whose work for the Gospel goes unrecognized in the public eye. Yet they are the engines that drive the Church and empower the advancement of the Gospel. Although they remain unseen, unrecognized, and often neglected, the fruit of their work is eternal, and Jesus sees it all. And a day will come when they receive the great applause from the King of kings Himself as He personally thanks them for their service.
The applause of men is a reward that is very short-lived and soon forgotten, but the applause of God lasts for all eternity. If you do what Jesus has called you to do and you do it with a right heart, you, too, will receive His eternal reward. As you stand before Him on that glorious day, any hardships you may have endured will dissipate before your eyes, and you will have the eternal gratification of knowing that you pleased the Lord. And as Jesus gives you His version of a standing ovation, I guarantee you that it will be the ultimate reward!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, You see everything. You are not unjust. You know how I have worked for You and how I have shown my love for You by caring for other believers. When I am tempted to be discouraged and to think that no one appreciates me, remind me that You know exactly what I am doing and why I am doing it. I know that You take note of what I do for Your Kingdom, and Your approval is what I desire. Holy Spirit, You are my Helper. I receive Your wisdom, counsel, and might to do my work for Jesus in the most excellent, professional manner possible. Thank You for Your power that enables me to serve the Lord in such a manner that one day He’ll rise to give a round of applause for what I’ve done and how I’ve done it.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I work as unto the Lord, whether or not men see my labor. Although it is nice to be thanked, I don’t work for the applause of men. Rather, I am laboring to please the Lord, and my priority in life is to serve Him in a manner that is honoring of Him. I devote 100 percent of my energy and efforts to glorify Jesus in all I do. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I purpose to satisfy His heart with my service and my heart motives behind my service. On that day when I am called to give an account for my works, I will stand boldly and unashamedly before Jesus because I will know I’ve given my best here in this life.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Do you have times when you feel that no one acknowledges the hard work you are doing for the Lord? In moments like these, are you tempted to feel unappreciated?
- Can you think of other believers who are giving every ounce of their energies to serve the Lord but are rarely thanked for their service? Have you ever gone out of your way to express your gratitude to them for what they do?
- Wouldn’t it be a good idea to take a few minutes today to list the people you should thank for their service to the Lord? It would take you only a few minutes to make this list, but if you thank these people, it will mean so much to them. Wouldn’t it mean a lot to you if someone went out of his or her way to say thank you to you today?