Many of us would like to be remembered by friends and relatives now and when we are gone. As a result, we give our best in our chosen careers and even go to the extent of building monuments or things that we can leave behind as a memorial, so that when we are gone, people will still remember us. While this seems to be the logical way to go, it is not true for the most part. The reality is that any memorial we leave behind will soon be forgotten and some are not even appreciated by those to whom they were dedicated. Yet while men will forget, God will never forget. Through the prophet Isaiah, God said of Zion—who thought she was forgotten by God—“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Isa. 49:15-16).
Therefore, it is best that we do something good for God, that he may remember us for it. In fact, we may get our reward sooner than we think. This was well illustrated in the life of one of the criminals that were crucified with Jesus. When the other criminal hurled insults at Jesus, saying, “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us,” he rebuked him and said, “Don’t you fear God, since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong” (Luke 23:40-41). By these words, the criminal appeared to have a change of heart when he had earlier heard Jesus say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). He internalized those words and moved him believe in the Lordship of Jesus. From that newfound faith, he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”. Reassuringly, Jesus responded, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).
Needless to say, those two criminals went their separate ways when they died—one went to hell and the other, to heaven. They were like the rich man and the beggar Lazarus, in the parable of Jesus in Luke 16. When they died, Lazarus was carried to Abraham’s bosom, while the rich man was buried and tormented in hell. These two destinies are far apart and there can be no conversion once we get there. Hell is reality and it was described as a place of torment, where the heat is unbearable. In hell where he was in torment, the rich man cried out, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” In contrast, Lazarus, who was on Abraham’s side, was living in comfort. This fact can be deduced from Abraham’s reply to the rich man: “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:24-26).
Jesus described heaven beautifully when he said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you” (John 14:2). Nevertheless, heaven is not for everybody. Rather, it is reserved for those who have received Jesus as Lord and Saviour. The Lord will surely remember them and their good works, for their names are engraved in the palm of his hands, The apostle Paul emphasized this, saying, “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them” (Heb. 6:10). While men will tend not only to forget us but also our good works, God will not. He will certainly remember us and will reward us in accordance with the measure of faith we have in him and the works we have done for his glory. Just like the criminal who had a change of heart and Lazarus who lived a blameless life, may the Lord remember our wholehearted devotion to him and our good works. “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Praise the Lord!