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“For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

THE LAST VERSE IN ECCLESIASTES GIVES US THE REASON WHY WE SHOULD FEAR GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. Reverence and obedience must define the way we live because “God will bring every deed into judgment.” All that we do is going to be tested, not by the trial of any human evaluation, but by the judgment of God Himself. Not wanting to deal with it, we may pretend this testing won’t come, but we will be tried by it nevertheless.

It is not just some of our deeds, but “every deed” that will be brought into judgment by God. Even “every secret thing” will be judged by Him. “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). This truth should jolt us. We may present to other human beings only what we want them to know, but God knows even the most secret contents of our hearts.

Our deeds will be judged “whether good or evil.” Just as we may temporarily deny God’s judgment itself, we may also deny the existence of objective right and wrong, but our denial doesn’t make it go away (any more than closing the blinds makes the sun go away). There is an eternal, unalterable difference between good and evil, and it has its origin in God’s own character.

Because He is our Creator, God has a right to bring us into judgment. Having given us life and a free will, He will hold us accountable for the use of our freedom of choice between good and evil. Think of it in terms of “stewardship.” Having been entrusted with great gifts, we will answer for our faithfulness in using them. Surely it is the right of the Giver to conduct such a reckoning.

At the final judgment, and even before, we won’t be able to hide from that which Thomas Merton called “the implacable light of judgment.” Apart from the forgiveness of God, which is what the gospel of Christ is about, none of us has any hope at the judgment. But if we won’t face reality, not even the gospel can help us.

“What we need is not a false peace which enables us to evade the implacable light of judgment, but the grace courageously to accept the bitter truth that is revealed to us; to abandon our inertia, our egotism and submit entirely to the demands of the Spirit” (Thomas Merton).

Gary Henry — +

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