Two men found themselves before God. Both trembled before his glory, but one mustered the strength to boast. “Father, I served you with every breath you gave me. Orphans were nourished, widows were protected, and my other cheek was turned daily. All that you commanded I upheld.”
The other man remained silent, head bowed, eyes closed. God asked him why he should be allowed in. He shook his head without looking up. “I don’t deserve to be speaking to you now. All that you commanded, I disobeyed. I ignored the orphan, disrespected the widow, and took revenge for myself. Only by your grace am I acceptable.”
God commanded each man to change clothes. Their new attire was behind separate curtains. The first man emerged raging in anger. Dirty and torn rags hung loosely off of his frame. The other appeared from behind his curtain dressed in a beautiful white robe.
“Why is he cleaned up and I’m dressed like a pauper?”
God ignored him and beamed at the man in white. “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share in your Master’s happiness.”
God than concentrated on the remaining person. With tears in his eyes, he addressed the man in rags. “I never knew you. Away from me you evil doer!”
“We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind” Isaiah 64:6
“She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear. For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people.” Revelation 19:8
God sees the heart behind the actions. The motives behind the obedience. He can discern between the “good” works of a sinner and a saint. Only God can send our actions through fire and know what will count as gain and what will count as loss. If you are counting on your good deeds to impress God and enter Heaven, know that they will never be enough. You will be dressed in rags in the end before the eyes of the most holy God. If you have trusted in Christ for forgiveness and redemption, know that only God can do good works through you. For Jesus said to the rich man, “Why do you call me good? For only God is good.” His righteousness will shine through you adorning you in radiant whites.
What clothes will you be wearing?