“The thief had no time left to make his Lord proud. Or impress his parents. He didn’t get to hear church members brag about how he’d really turned his life around. He never shared his testimony. He could not offer Jesus any service or effort or earn any badges. He won not a single soul for the kingdom. No mission trips. He never tithed. He witnessed to no one. He studied no scripture. He wasn’t baptized. He was surely the worst performing and least-decorated Christian in history. And the first one to enter heaven with Jesus” (Marc Phillips).
Let that sink in.
Don’t get me wrong. Evangelizing, missions, tithing, Bible study, baptism, and the like are all important. But they are not what gets us into heaven. They are not what keeps us saved.
The most important thing about any believer is that he or she belongs to Jesus. More than to your family or to your spouse or to your children, you belong to Jesus. He takes first place over everything and everyone else.
But also remember that He bought you with a price. You matter to Him. Your testimony in heaven will be not how many souls you led to Christ or how much you tithed or how many mission journeys you undertook or how much of the Bible you memorized. It will be that Jesus remembered you. Jesus sought you out when you were a stranger. No matter what happens between now and eternity, your song through endless ages will be that Jesus led you all the way.
I heard a famous preacher once say that when he died he wanted to sit at the feet of the thief on the cross as a reminder that Jesus didn’t save him or anyone else because of merit or worth or deserving but because of grace and mercy and a last minute plea.