“So then each of us shall give account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
GOD’S JUDGMENT OF EVERY HUMAN BEING IS BOTH A COMFORTING AND A SOBERING THOUGHT. On the one hand, the day of judgment will be a day of vindication for the downtrodden. Right will be done about every wrong that has ever been perpetrated, and justice will prevail over injustice. But on the other hand, it will be impossible to escape the consequences of our own actions. “Each of us,” Paul wrote, “shall give account of himself to God.”
Consider for a moment the concept of “accountability.” The word accountable is similar to words like responsible, answerable, liable, and amenable. All of these words mean being obliged to answer for our actions to an authority with the power to penalize failure. Now surely, if God created us, then He has authority over us. Having given us our free wills, He can rightly ask us for an explanation (or “account”) of why we used our freedom as we did.
But notice that Paul says each one must give account of himself to God. When we stand before God, we’ll be expected to take responsibility for our own actions. Evasion of personal responsibility may be the major mentality of the modern age, but there will be no such evasion before God. What others have done won’t matter. The only question will be: “What choices did you make?”
And finally, in 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul wrote that we will answer for “things done in the body.” That implies that we’ll account for our actual deeds — not for what we knew to do or planned to do or had good intentions of doing as soon as we got around to it.
The judgment day will clarify many things. For example, it will clarify what was important (rather than trivial) and permanent (rather than temporary). If we would look with honesty and courage, we could see these realities right now. At least we could see them well enough to understand that we ought to obey the gospel of Christ and wait obediently for His coming. So let’s try to see what’s important and what’s permanent. When the time comes for each of us to give account, we’re going to wish that we’d been putting first things first. Wouldn’t today be a good day to start?
“When shall we awake to the sublime greatness, the perils, the accountableness, and the glorious destinies of the immortal soul?” (William Ellery Channing).