Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

REWARDS By Jeannette Haley

Oh! How we love rewards and perks. I remember as I child the joy I felt when rewarded for bringing the most friends to Sunday school, or memorizing the weekly Bible verses, or sometimes hymns. Of all the rewards I received, the little white cross that glowed in my dark room at night was my favorite.

The promise of rewards is a strong motivator for people of any age. Athletes compete for medals and trophies, chefs compete for the title of master chef, architects compete to come up with the grandest structures, artists compete for the “Best of Show” or “People’s Choice,” and, to their shame, some churches compete to reach the status of being a “Mega” church. People in all walks of life can find themselves consumed with the goal of being the very “best” at something. Sadly, trophies, plaques, ribbons, medals, pins, buttons and other memorabilia commemorating our hard work and accomplishments generally end up in the corner of a drawer, or collecting dust on some shelf. Eventually, as the years fly by and after we’re gone, few people, if any, continue to admire us or care about the material rewards we left behind.

I have to admit, I mentally use the “reward system” on myself to help me keep moving through each day. As I tackle life’s chores and challenges, whether great or small, I tell myself that at the completion of certain accomplishments, I can reward myself with a good cup of tea, maybe with some chocolate, or even “time out” to do a little reading. Laugh if you will, but as for me, I need a great deal of self-discipline in order to keep going “no matter what” so at the end of the day I won’t suffer regret at having not “redeemed the time.” Inertia can lead to a pit of depression, but accomplishment lends itself to a feeling of satisfaction, and that is, in itself, a worthy reward.

Even animals can be taught, trained and tempered into good behavior with the use of rewards. There are times when our Yorkipoo insists the he should be rewarded for coming when called. Of course, he should simply come out of obedience, but that’s not the way he feels about it. His way of conning may be cute, and his antics funny, but when it comes to us and our relationship with God, He doesn’t admire “cute” or “funny” when we are in direct disobedience to Him. Jesus asked in Luke 6:46, And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” He then went on to illustrate the dire consequences of disobedience.

We don’t like to focus on consequences. Ask any rebellious young person if he or she is prepared to pay the consequences for their attitudes and actions and you’ll get a truckload of excuses trying to justify their so-called “right” to live the way they want to live. Foolish people, both young and old, are gullible to the lies of Satan who promises them some type of irresistible reward that seems to be far more exciting and self-serving than obedience to God. Because Satan is “the god of this world,” he can offer some incredible “rewards” such as power, control, fame and fortune. (See Matthew 4:1-11.) The problem is, these things are only temporary, while losing one’s soul is a guarantee of the eternal consequences of destruction.

In Psalm 19:11 we read of “great reward.” A careful reading of the preceding verses tells us how to procure this “great reward,” and tells us what this “great reward” is, which I have underlined. “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:7-11.) What could be a more satisfying or greater “reward” in this world than conversion of the soul, wisdom, rejoicing of the heart, spiritual enlightenment, and true and righteous judgments of the LORD, which are all more valuable than fine gold, and sweeter than honey?

Sadly, the fashion of this world is to try and “have your cake and eat it too.” The flesh wants what the flesh wants when it wants it, and justifies itself with excuses such as, “I said ‘the prayer and accepted Christ, so I’m saved no matter what I do” or “I’m one of the elect, so I can’t lose my salvation no matter how I live,” or “God understands why I’m doing what I’m doing because He wants me to be happy,” or “God is love and that means He won’t send me to hell when I die,” or “I don’t care about rewards in heaven; I just want to get all I can out of this world while I’m here.” Finally, there is this old mantra, “We are saved by grace, and not by works, so works aren’t necessary.” But James reminds us “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (See James 2:14-26.) Jesus assures us in Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Again, in Revelation 22:12 Jesus said, “And, behold, I come quickly: and my reward is with me to give every man according as his work shall be.”

How do we know what our work should be? Our “work” entails our whole life. It is the very essence of “why we are here.” As Rayola teaches, “True Christianity is a life that you walk out.” The Apostle John tells us, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. And, now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming” 1 John 2:27, 28. (Emphasis mine.) We know that “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”” 1 Corinthians 3:13-15.

Do you ever wonder about your rewards? Perhaps you imagine it’s a “mansion over the hilltop” or maybe being enabled to live out what you desired on earth but could never have. Some do believe that whatever they loved to do the most in this life is what they “get to do” in heaven. All of these ideas, and others like them, are basically carnal, self-serving, earthly and ridiculous. The rewards for overcomers, however, consist of a crown of life, a crown of righteousness, a crown of glory, a shining crown, and a crown of beauty. (See Isaiah 28:5; 62:3; Psalm 132:18; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10.)

The apostle Paul wrote, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” 1 Corinthians 2:9. Our Lord said, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” Matthew 25:34. To encourage your heart further, here is what the prophet Isaiah wrote, “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” Isaiah 64:4.

Oswald Chambers said, “God engineers circumstances to see what we will do. Will we be the children of our Father in heaven, or will we go back again to the meaner, common-sense attitude? Will we stake all and stand true to Him? ‘Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.’ The crown of life means I shall see that my Lord has got the victory after all, even in me.

To me, the “bottom line” is what the LORD God said to Abram, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” Genesis 15b. What more could we ever expect or want than that?

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The Goal of Gentle Shepherd Ministries is to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to make disciples in compliance with the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19).

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