My grandkids tell me “The Ultimate Test” was a Pokemon television show and I thought it was about tracking down weird creatures in the real world using your phone app (I am so confused!). The Infiniti’s “Ultimate Test” would get me arrested or dead since I am legally blind. The Ironman competition is supposedly “The Ultimate Test,” but that is out with my bad back. So what is the REAL “Ultimate Test” — the one we will face at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10)?
In Matthew 22 the religious leaders of Jesus’ day come to Him with the “Ultimate Test.” This is their fourth and final try during Passion Week to publicly “catch” Jesus in a theological misstep so they can try Him as a blasphemer and heretic. Remember the religious leaders of the day believed there were 613 commandments in Mosaic Law plus another 5,000 oral traditions that were also to be obeyed to be right with God. So of those 5,613 commandments, one of the Pharisaical lawyers asks Jesus the ultimate question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Mt 22:35-40).
Our Lord’s immediate response (from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18) is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” with the second like the first, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” He uses the same Greek verb for love in both commands. Agapao is unconditional heart, soul, and mind devotion to our Lord and our neighbor. It is love that holds absolutely nothing back.
Our Lord constantly put everyone else on trial during Passion Week. The religious leaders think they have Him on the “Ultimate Test.” He turns the tables on these leaders and shuts their mouths with these two “great and foremost commandments.” He shuts our mouths, too. You see, I believe the “Ultimate Test” of all followers of Jesus is, “Did you learn to love Me and other people?”
I believe the lie that He really will judge me on how I grew a big ministry. Or how my kids and grandchildren turn out. Or how many people did I led to the Lord. Or how many people I discipled. The reality is He does all that stuff. I just need to get out of His way. What He really cares about is, “Am I learning to love Him and people?”
How do I know this is His “Ultimate Test” of my life and your life? Because every mention of the Judgment Seat of Christ in the New Testament is always in the context of loving others. Here are just a few examples:
“But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” –Romans 14:10
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. . . for the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died.” –2 Corinthians 5:10, 15
“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ. –Philippians 1:9-10
The reality is none of us love Him or others as He commands. On our own, we are all spiritually bankrupt. This “Ultimate Test” leaves us in utter ruin. The only person I love is me. Not Jesus. Not others. Yet, by His sheer grace and love I get to play Captain’s Choice every day when it comes to loving the Lord and loving others. Due to His death and resurrection for my hideous record of love, I get His perfect record of love. I strike out every day in love, yet, He hits a home run. I can’t get the ball off the tee when it comes to loving Him, yet, I get Jesus’ perfect hole-in-one every day. I throw a gutter ball every day in seeking to love people, but Jesus bowls a 300 every game of love. He took my hideous record of love on that wretched Cross, and He gives me His perfect record of love by grace.
Wow, what a Savior. His extravagant and eternal love for me causes me to love Him and people more every day. It also does not freak me out as I come each day closer to that Day of Judgment. I know He is teaching me to love Him and people because of the perfect love He has for me. I can rest today knowing He has already performed the Ultimate Test for me.
Shalom in Jesus!
Praising Him, Tim! I have been under conviction about the same things. God is working in me though, just as He is in you. Praying for you and Deb, and needing those prayers for myself too. How blessed we are that it doesn’t depend on us but solely on Him and His mercy, grace, and strength.