If you open up and read through Galatians 5:19-24, you will likely experience two different emotions. There is the inspiration that comes from reading through the fruits of the Spirit, which sound beautiful. But if we are honest, there is also the anxiety that comes from reading the works of the flesh. They sound uncomfortably familiar. Knowing our shortcomings and contemplating the Day of Judgment could easily make us fearful. How could we account for our choices? What defense could we possibly make?

Romans 8 is a beautiful portrayal of the court where our judgment will one day occur. For those who have died in Christ, everything is upside down in the best possible way. In God’s court, for God’s children, the verdict comes before the trial. “There is no condemnation” (8:1)! No punishment is necessary, because Jesus already received the punishment for the crime (8:3-4).

As the trial continues, who will condemn us? Only Jesus could. He suffered unjustly because of us. But we look at the right hand of God and see Jesus there, urging God to let us go free. He won’t be pressing charges (8:33-34). What about the Holy Spirit, the one who came to dwell within us at the moment of our baptism and has seen every action and known every inclination of our hearts? The Spirit is reaching out to God on our behalf, speaking with such emotional groans that they can’t even be put into words (8:26-27).

For those of us who are Christians, what we discover on the day we stand before God is that all along, God was weaving everything in history together in order to bless us beyond our wildest imaginings (8:28). All Christian hope stems from the resurrection of Jesus, but it carries us forward until the day that we will see God face to face. We wait for it with hope, because God will give us a conclusion to our story so beautiful that only God could have imagined it.

Today, I will…imagine myself in the loving presence of God being told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I will make choices today that will help me move toward this goal.