Is there such a thing as "time served" here on earth?

Is there such a thing as “time served” here on earth?

Is there such a thing as “time served” here on earth? In other words, when we suffer does that take time off purgatory, for example… Does it help us during final judgment?

Also, if you save a life or save many lives during your own lifetime, or bring people to God, during your own lifetime, does that help you in the end?

I asked this because I’ve read a lot of the writings of the early Christian fathers, Saints and Doctor’s of the Church and have found things in the Bible that seems to indicate that this stuff does matter in the end.

Am I wrong?

It does seem that these things are ultimately good for the soul.
I do know though that as Christian there is much more to being a good Christian than just suffering or just saving or helping others but I’m just wondering if this other stuff matters.

If you have any particular Bible verse(s) that address this issue, and/or any early writings, please post them here with your comments.

I know that the opinions here will vary, based on different religious beliefs but I am looking forward to seeing and reading all of the responses and I look forward to a discussion on this matter.

Thank you very much!

Your Thoughts?

I know I can’t earn my way, but the Lord can do alot with what little I have. I can hope.:slight_smile:

I think that our works here on earth, although not earning our way into Heaven in a legalistic sense - e.g. God is **not **obligated to let us into Heaven, it is a free gift of his love and mercy - they can help to serve reduce our time in Purgatory not in the works themselves, but in “health” of the soul that can produce the works.

My understanding is that during our time in Purgatory the last remnants of selfishness and sin will be eliminated. I think if we can begin that process here on earth.

It works two ways I think: A soul destined for Heaven will choose to do works of mercy and other good works because of love of God and turning away from self-serving sin. Also, the more someone purposefully chooses to do good works will temper one’s soul and “purge” away sinful ways (partly through habit perhaps).

Metaphysically, I’m not sure if I’m accurate, but I believe God rewards (not legally, but out of love) our efforts on Earth to love Him through our works. I guess I want to emphasize that we do not obligate God through our works, but he is pleased that we are trying (I think).

This is my own understanding based on what I’ve read in the Catechism, writings from the Saints, and the Bible. So I think of my time here on earth as a gift, and I try to use that time to “purge” myself of my sinfulness (of which there is quite a bit) and turn toward God and accept His love. :wink:

In Christ,

I’ve read a lot of NDE’s, (near-death experiences) and they very often speak of having review of their lives and understanding what’s important to God. And they say that things they thought were “little,” of hardly any consequence at all, seemed to be very important and the “big things,” not so much.

I think if a person unselfishly is willing to risk themselves for the life of another, that’s going to be a pretty well-regarded thing by God, but I think from what I have read and from what Jesus says, that daily kindnesses are the things that are the great producers of Light and healing and make our souls strong so we are closer to God when we pass.

Like, waiting for some new server to get our order right, are we rude and obviously impatient, making them feel worse? Or patient and pleasant and encouraging? One woman reports that she was shown a very significant moment from her life, when she stopped to help someone push their car out of traffic and hurried away not waiting to be thanked. She wouldn’t even have considered it a big deal, but it was to God.

What I think is that we can completely trust the outrageous mercy of God through Christ for us and that we will all be surprised by what actions matter most to God. I recall Saint Mary Magdalene DiPazzi is reported to have written from one of her almost continuous states of vision, that Purgatory is actually quite wonderful compared to here. But I suppose any state of separation from God, no matter how much closer we are after we pass which makes it better, still makes us long for complete oneness in Him.

There’s a book called Purgatory by Fr Faber that talks about this, also a booklet on the value of the Mass and one called Read Me or Rue It. All are available from Tan Publishing. They all talk about beginning our Purgatory here through prayer, sacrifice and suffering well.

A bit off topic, but Tan also has a book called Ghosts and Poltergeists by Fr Thurston with some amazing thoughts on Purgatory.

From the Bible, how about Jesus words to Mary Magdalen, “Many sins are forgiven you because you have loved much”. Did he also mean her debt? I take it to mean that.

I was taught that positive energy attracts more positive energy and negative energy attracts more negative energy. Specifically, you must begin with a positive intent and then do good and this will attract more positive energies toward you. The opposite is also true. If you do evil, you will attract negative energies. Is it possible that karma and purgatory are the same thing?

No, not as I understand karma. But it is true that sin darkens the soul and conscience, leading to more sin, more darkening and so on. That’s why sacramental confession is so valuable. It clears the darkness we have brought into our own souls by sin. It helps us to see more clearly than we did before we were absolved.

So, maybe its more like there are Real Truths, and some who were not exposed to Judaism and Christianity apprehended these truths intellectually but the Truth that was seen was seen only dimly. They called this thing they knew karma.

I hope you can get the drift of what I am trying to relate. I am not trying to say your religion, whatever it may be, is bad. On the contrary, I think all world religions point to the reality of who God is. We just have to be open to the search and open to even tossing off our treasured beliefs, if necessary, to really know Him.

Thank you all for the excellent posts.
I hope this isn’t too far off topic, maybe it’s exactly on-topic. At any rate, the Cadet Honor Code at the USMA at West Point is - “A cadet will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do”.
I have found that the first part, “don’t lie, cheat, or steal” is easier than the second part - “…or tolerate those who do”.
I thought about this when I read an earlier comment here about “evil attracting evil”.
I believe the second part of the West Point Honor Code is actually more profound and more important than the first, even though in practice, the second part is more difficult.
When I say difficult, I mean that it’s difficult in the sense that even though “evil may attract evil”, the more you’re willing to avoid sin and try to encourage others to do the same, the fewer “friends” you’ll end up with.
I view this type of rejection, experienced by some who avoid sin and try to do the right thing, is also an example of “time-served”. Am I wrong?
Your thoughts?

Heres a couple page article which may help. Click next section at bottom to read page-2


I think the more profound and important kind of requires more difficult, for the most part. This might seem silly, but for some reason it makes me think of Dolly Parton on Johnny Carson, oh many moons ago, now. He asked her about cheating on her husband, and she said, “Heck, anybody can cheat, cheatin’s easy. I don’t want to be like just anybody.”

I view this type of rejection, experienced by some who avoid sin and try to do the right thing, is also an example of “time-served”. Am I wrong?
Your thoughts?

I think it depends on how you do it. If a person is going about admonishing others all the time and is really just trying to feel better about themselves, well, that’s not service or charity, really. But if we just don’t want to “go with the flow” of sin, if we don’t want to be getting drunk or chasing the opposite sex, or gossiping or doing whatever we have to do to fit in that just is not Christ-centered, and we end up alone, then, yes, I’d say “time-served” is a good way to think of it.

Some people seem very spiritually strong and just being in their presence makes others want to behave better. I’m not one of those, I’m one who ends up feeling bad if I am around negative people or ugliness. I don’t want to be judging them, a lot of them seem to be doing much greater works in God’s service than I’ll ever do, I just can’t seem to abide too much contact. I don’t consider this a virtue on my part, but a lack of spiritual maturity.

God said the greatest commandments are to love God first and your neighbor as yourself.
This is the basis of it all.
I have the world of respect for the person who risks his own life for another, the veteran, the firefighter, the stranger on the street who helps a little old lady who is getting mugged. Now too provided the intent is not personal glory or pride.

I know that there is such a thing as “time served on earth” because we are taught to offer up our pains and sacrifices, fastings and mortifications,
but I think the real question might be how much. I once many years ago read that the Punishment for one lie was 7 YEARS in purgatory. For 1 little lie. So common place in today’s world?

Did not St Therese say I will spend my heaven doing good on earth, even after her death.

I think ANY act of charity, GOd will balance out against our punishment.

I myself am not in a position as a firefighter or military service (as opposed to police as that is political) but I try my acts of charity on Earth in prayer for others.

I do think there is such a thing as time served, but how much time!

No. This is because although you can make an analogy between bad deeds and time in purgatory, you can’t make an analogy between good deeds and heaven because the Catholic Church rejects the idea that man can enter heaven without divine grace, whereas karma would mean that you would enter heaven based solely on your own actions.

If what we do helps us during final judgement doesn’t that mean that the death of Jesus Christ on our behalf was not enough? To think that God’s own sacrifice would somehow fall short is incomprehensible to me. Was he unable to save us completely, somehow limited?

Ephesians 2 is very clear on this point:

“You were dead in your transgressions and sins in which you once lived following the age of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the desires of our flesh, following the wishes of the flesh and the impulses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ (by grace you have been saved), raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”

Romans 4 is also clear on this:

“What then can we say that Abraham found, our ancestor according to the flesh? Indeed, if Abraham was justified on the basis of his works, he has reason to boast; but this was not so in the sight of God. For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” A worker’s wage is credited not as a gift, but as something due. But when one does not work, yet believes in the one who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. So also David declares the blessedness of the person to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not record.” Does this blessedness apply only to the circumcised, or to the uncircumcised as well? Now we assert that “faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” Under what circumstances was it credited? Was he circumcised or not? He was not circumcised, but uncircumcised. And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal on the righteousness received through faith while he was uncircumcised. Thus he was to be the father of all the uncircumcised who believe, so that to them (also) righteousness might be credited, as well as the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised, but also follow the path of faith that our father Abraham walked while still uncircumcised. It was not through the law that the promise was made to Abraham and his descendants that he would inherit the world, but through the righteousness that comes from faith. For if those who adhere to the law are the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law produces wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation. For this reason, it depends on faith, so that it may be a gift, and the promise may be guaranteed to all his descendants, not to those who only adhere to the law but to those who follow the faith of Abraham, who is the father of all of us, as it is written, “I have made you father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into being what does not exist. He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become “the father of many nations,” according to what was said, “Thus shall your descendants be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body as (already) dead (for he was almost a hundred years old) and the dead womb of Sarah. He did not doubt God’s promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God and was fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do.That is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” But it was not for him alone that it was written that “it was credited to him”; it was also for us, to whom it will be credited, who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over for our transgressions and was raised for our justification.”

These and other verses say that our efforts can’t save us. There is no such thing as “time served” for a Christian.

This is not to say that righteousness is not required. Out of the grace given to us by Christ we behave obediently, righteously. But those are outworkings of what Christ has done, not us earning salvation or knocking years off of purgatory.

This is a Protestant talking-point, where a Catholic verse from the Bible, a Catholic book, is taken out of context and where Christian history or “Christian traditions” have been rejected and/or ignored altogether.

For example,
See; James 2:14-23
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well, but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called “the friend of God.”

Hi Brian,
What do you think about James 2?

It is a biblical talking point and not so easily dismissed by stereotypical claims that Protestants reject traditions. Protestants don’t reject all traditions. Only those that lack biblical support are suspect.

The passage from James 2 supports my point. What did Abraham do to get into Heaven? He believed God. Period. If he were relying on his works he would be in desperate trouble. Let’s not forget the contrast between the Abrahamic and Mosaic covenants: the former was guaranteed to be fulfilled by God himself while the latter, works-based agreement was ratified (and not fulfilled) by the people. The Mosaic Covenant demonstrates that we need a Savior. Our works cannot save us.

The works James wrote about are out-workings of faith. Once declared righteous by the blood of Christ, the natural evidence of a renewed heart of faith is works. Do you have faith? Then your faith will show itself in your works. If we don’t see your works, we can have legitimate doubts about your faith.

“Works” do play a role and as you rightly say the scripture verse often quoted is referring to the workings of faith. If one is baptized or “accepts Jesus as savior” on their death bed but lived like the devil, works will matter as to degree of reward. “In my fathers house there are many mansions”

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