At the end of every semester, I have a little speech that I share with my students. As part of the speech, I remind them that there are reasons I take my job very seriously; a fact which often results in them being challenged more than they would like. I tell them that one reason for this is simply because I love my job. It was while I was in college that I first articulated my hope that one day I would get to be a college professor. The fact that I get to do what I dreamed of, and that it is something I enjoy, engenders a commitment to do my job with excellence. I also share with them that another reason I take my job so seriously is because I believe that I will be held to account for the time that I spent with them. Teaching college students is a gift, and I believe that God is going to ask me about how I used that opportunity for the purposes of His Kingdom.
What I have found is that sharing this with my students reminds them, and me, of the importance of what we do. When I tell them that I will have to give an account for my time spent with them, they are more likely to realize (I hope) that they will have to give an account too. And the thing is, just like they won’t be asked about what I did, I will not be asked to give a reckoning for the decisions they made. We each will stand before God to attest to how we used the opportunities, talents, and occasions that He gave us – no one else.
This is an important thing to remember in all our relationships. We are quick to look at the things that the other person could do differently. A mother could be more patient. A husband could be more loving. A child, more compliant. Yet when all is said and done God will not ask us about what other people did. He will want to know how we responded and acted in the situations in which He placed us. How another behaved won’t be part of our testament; He will want us to account for our own attitudes, decisions, and behaviors.
This means that instead of focusing on how another “should” change, we should be focused on whether our life is aligning with God’s standards. This doesn’t mean that we don’t stir fellow believers on to “love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24) as Scripture commands that we should, but it does mean that our efforts of change are focused on removing the log out of our own eye and not the speck in theirs (Mat. 7:5). Instead of being so worried about what other people could do differently – specifically how they could better treat us – we would do well to spend that time considering how we could be better ambassadors of God’s love to them. Perhaps there is no greater opportunity for this than in our marriages where we are prone to focus on what they other should be doing differently, rather than how we might be more thoroughly serving them.
We will need to give an account to God one day and that should make all of us more closely examine our lives. Out of love for our Savior and because of our gratitude for what He accomplished on the cross, we should want the differential between God’s standards and our conduct to be as minimal as it can. May how we conduct ourselves towards others reflect this commitment.