Psalm 19:11, Colossians 3:23-24
Recently a friend caused me to think about new doctrinal teaching on rewards. It would take a lot of digging to check out all the Bible verses that speak to the topic, but speak they do. From both Old to New Testaments God’s people are assured of rewards. It is interesting to note that God Himself is spoken of as Abraham’s “very great reward” (Genesis 15:1). What might that mean?
Abraham had just declined taking anything that would obligate him to the King of Sodom, asserting his complete allegiance to “the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (Genesis 14:22), with whom he already had a covenant. Therefore God honoured him with His protection and presence.
The Psalmist reminds his readers that in keeping the ordinances of the Lord, there would be great reward (Psalm 19:11). Old Testament theology demonstrates a conviction that people will be rewarded for their works, a point that Jesus clarifies in His teaching about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:34 – “Come you [sheep] who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance – the kingdom prepared for you.” Not all rewards will be received on earth. Jesus warns that many will be persecuted for righteousness sake; these will receive their rewards in heaven (Matthew 5: 10-12). Paul speaks about rewards in heaven as a certainty. However, he mentions motivation. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for man!” Why? “….since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving!” (Colossians 3:23-24).
In our world today a prevailing attitude seems to be to put our best foot forward when we know we will get something out of it. However, out of a sense of commitment and loyalty the best work is done, done for the sake of the work itself. This is what Jesus was talking about when He spoke about rewards in Matthew 25. Those who were blessed by His Father were totally unaware – “Lord when did we see You hungry….thirsty….a stranger…..sick……in prison?” What a thrilling surprise that they were rewarded by the commendation of their precious Saviour! What a horrible shock that those who, labouring to keep up appearances were told to “Depart from Me you who are cursed” (Matthew 25:41), because they had not seen Jesus in the opportunity. Not sensing it would be a work worthy of reward, the work was left undone.
Prophecy anticipates Jesus’ return -“The Sovereign Lord comes with power ….see His reward is with Him” (Isaiah 40:10).
Can you imagine serving Jesus out of a competitive spirit? Why do we want rewards? Would we serve Him if there were no rewards promised? What will these “rewards” look like?
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)