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I am not the first to think that at some point after this life we’ll stand in something like a courtroom and give an account to a judge. The bizarre thing, to me at least, is the Christian account of how this will go. As a Christian myself, that’s probably the wrong thing to say. But throughout the bible, God appears more concerned with people’s hearts than with people’s actions. Don’t get me wrong, if you do rotten things with a rotten heart, you’re missing the mark wide. But if you do rotten things with a contrite heart that begs forgiveness, God is pleased to redeem you. I’m reminded of this parable from Luke’s Gospel:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themsleves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

So I see the courtroom scene like this: when asked by the judge, “How do you plead?” Some answer: “Guilty, your Honor, I beg your forgiveness and accept the full cost to make restitution,” and others answer: “Not guilty, it’s not me you should be going after.” Surely, only the one who answers truthfully can be redeemed.

I had a wise brother tell me last year that in his experience, God is more concerned with how he responds to a situation than with the situation itself. I have tried now, this year, to make that a New Year’s resolution. It’s a bit strange but in light of how powerful God is, situations are rarely difficult for Him. My own heart seems a much greater stumbling block to God’s power.