Read: Isaiah 38:17; Isaiah 44:22; Micah 7:19; Colossians 1:22; Jude 1:24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Galatians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 3:8
My husband was born in Louisiana, and I was born in Illinois. Although these two states are different in many ways, they have one not so laudable thing in common. Corruption. Once we counted the governmental officials we knew of from our states who had been in prison, and it was a dead heat. Too many, that is for sure, but this morning, I was thinking about one Secretary of State who never ended up in jail because he passed away first. May I introduce him to you?
His name was Paul Powell, and he was from Vienna, Illinois. As I was reminding myself of his life, I read a telling headline that described it well. He went, after his death, from a hero to a bum. Why? Because of what was found in briefcases, a shoe box and other containers, which had all been stored in the closet of his hotel room. Surprise! There were no shoes in the shoe box. Instead, there was money. Approximately $800,000 was discovered in that closet and Paul Powell never earned more than $30,000 per year. It is believed that he accumulated his wealth through bribes, shady deals and even some smart legitimate efforts, but there remains much mystery surrounding Powell's hidden fortune. By the way, two cases of creamed corn and thirty cases of whiskey were also discovered, but Powell remains infamous for what was found in his shoe box.
What about us? Those who belong to Jesus and those who don't. What's in our shoe box that Jesus will "unpack" when we stand before Him? Although we don't know the specifics, we know in general what we can be certain won't be there and what will. Let's take a look at what the Bible tells us.
For those who belong to Jesus. What won't be in our shoe boxes? Sin! I'm so thankful that God chose to give us pictures of what His forgiveness looks like. We know that Jesus took our place and bore the punishment that we deserved. Even so, sometimes, the Evil One reminds us of our transgressions or tries to once again rap us in shame. He might even tell us that God is still remembering our iniquities against us. Here is where the biblical pictures encourage me.
1. Isaiah 38:17-The Lord has put my sins behind His back. When I come to His throne of grace, He is looking at me. He is not holding my sin over me. He has turned His back on all that He has forgiven; therefore, He sees me as holy and blameless, Colossians 1:22.
2. Isaiah 44:22-The Holy One has wiped away my sin like the vanishing of a cloud or the dissipating of a mist. There is nothing left of it. As I can never regather mist that has been burned off by the sun, my sins won't be brought back upon me. As I could never grab hold of a cloud, my sins can't be brought up against me again. Praise the Lord! Though I might remember in great detail what I have done wrong, no bits of sin remain. There is nothing left in the shoe box to convict me. I am completely clothed in Jesus' righteousness, Isaiah 61:10.
3. Micah 7:19-My evil doings have been trodden underfoot. They have been thrown to the bottom of the sea. Nothing remains of them to be put back in my shoe box because the One doing the prodding down and the One Who has sent them into the sea has left no remnants of them. Not those which are past, any I will commit today and none that I will commit in the future. This standing with Him humbles me and causes me to want to find out what pleases Him, Ephesians 5:10.
For those who belong to Jesus. What will be in our shoe boxes? How good it is to know that even today, Jesus might be placing something in our shoe boxes. I love the reminders from Galatians 6:9 and 1 Corinthians 15:58 that tell us that nothing we do for the Savior goes unnoticed. Even the small things that are done to honor Him that no one else sees are seen by the Lord. He adds to our boxes what He knows was done for His glory. That's hard to understand; yet, we are told it is true. When we are honored however the Lord does it, we will be even more thankful because we will surely know that the reason we remained faithful was all because of God's grace. Anything we receive will be a special reminder of all that Jesus did for us so that our lives could make an eternal difference. Whatever rewards that await us are all of grace, and we will have great joy, and no doubt we will be surprised at what things we have done that Jesus will choose to reward.
What about those who do not yet belong to Jesus? Sadly, each of their shoe boxes contains an ever-growing record of wrongs. Many of their lives are filled with kind deeds; even so, their lives don't please God. In fact, as it is for each person who has not received the forgiveness described above, God's wrath is upon them, John 3:18; John 3:36. Yet, whether their sins seem to be many or few to them, total forgiveness is available because we each had a debt we couldn't pay, and Jesus paid a debt He did not owe. Therefore, when anyone gives Him all his sin, knowing Jesus has paid the debt, John 19:30, He will receive Jesus' righteousness, 2 Corinthians 5:21. Then he can begin filling his box which has been emptied of sin, with the deeds that honor and please God.