Job 34:10-11 “Therefore listen to me, you men of understanding:
Far be it from God to do wickedness,
And from the Almighty to commit iniquity.
For He repays man according to his work,
And makes man to find a reward according to His way.”
When I read the Bible, I see hope. Part of that hope is found in our expectations both now and in a life to come.
With Christ comes great reward and the idea of rewards has had a certain mystery to it, from crowns to future positions in God’s Kingdom, there seems to be no end to the speculation.
Most christians I know rarely make the reward their motivation for being found faithful. Since the Lord has been a bit obtuse regarding what to expect, the idea of something that is to come is like opening a present at christmas…the surprise is half the fun.
Now, without trying to spoil everyone’s fun, maybe we can see what these types of rewards might look like, both in this life and in the life to come.
Jesus mentions 3 types of rewards:
Matthew 10:40-42 “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
In this short portion of scripture we see specifically
- The prophets reward
- A righteous man’s reward
- And the reward of compassion.
Interestingly, when Jesus was teaching on these rewards he was referring specifically to certain groups of people, not the ones in need but the ones who are receiving them; specifically the prophet, the righteous man, and the little ones in need.
Coming to Christ because of His love is our blessing today, but helping those whom God has sent or helping those who can’t help themselves is a way to show love back to Christ.
When we are given opportunity to partake in God’s Kingdom work, we are awarded the honor of being instruments for God. Returning love to God in a practical way reveals God’s pleasure in our lives, there’s nothing that can compare.
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
In other parts of scripture we see various degrees of reward. Jesus implies that rewards can be measured.
Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Being persecuted for your faith brings a level of reward that carries great expectation while those who do false acts of righteousness will only receive the immediate reward of filling up their pride.
Matthew 6:16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
Jesus warns of the loss of reward that is evident with those who only love others who show love in return in Matthew 5:46 while we see immediate reward by voluntarily serving the Lord out of love and not just obligation in 1 Corinthians 9:17-18.
If I have a cheerful heart I have a continual feast in Proverbs 15:15, this seems like reward to me, while children are considered God’s reward to those whom God has blessed (although at times parents may have their doubts.)
Psalm 19:11 reveals there is the reward of obedience to God’s moral law and in Proverbs 25:22 there is reward for loving your enemies, the culmination of obedience to God’s directives.
With all the rewards that God proclaims exists, one factor remains constant throughout…the motivation for serving God is found within the heart.
Motivation of the Heart
Colossians 3:23-24 “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”
As we look forward to the age to come we begin to see there is a future reward administered by Jesus Himself, this becomes part of our heavenly inheritance. If the fact that we are saved from eternal death isn’t enough reward in itself, knowing we will dwell in the presence of our Savior will be an expectation that exceeds all else.
I promise you, you’ll want to have something to give the King. Just like the Magi at Jesus birth who brought gold, francencence, and myrrh, we will hope to have something from our lives that we can offer Him. If we live faithfully, He gives us opportunity to offer Him good gifts, but if we live for ourselves, the reward of unfaithfulness will bring shame and regret.
We witness the sad reward of God’s judgement in Colossians 3:25 “But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.“. Whether we live faithfully or unfaithfully, it all brings a response from God.
Since the reward we receive might either be blessed by God or invoke His judgment, it’s important we consider carefully how we live. Someone may think they are doing good but is not what they think. They can either wait and find out the hard way when they stand before the Judge or they can read the Bible and find out now.
Proverbs 11:18 “The wicked man does deceptive work, But he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward.”
The wicked man may rob someone and think his loot is the reward for his cunning and deceit, but in the end it is rottenness to his bones.
There are rewards of healing (both physical and spiritual), rewards of gain whether it is riches or position, rewards of honor and those of a spiritual heritage….consider these as expectations yet to come.
In judgement we will see those whose reward finds them unworthy of honor: Revelation 2:23 “I will kill her children (of the spirit of Jezebel) with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.”
The punishment to those who are unworthy will be the measure of God’s hatred against sin.
We must take into consideration all that God deems worthy and all that is offensive to Him, His Word gives us a right perspective if we will only heed it.
In God’s perspective reward exists both now and in the age to come. Reward is reflected by our work. Poor work is cursed because it is brought forth in iniquity, while good work receives a blessing because it is born of God. How we are judged varies by the level of obedience and the faith we exhibit.
In the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, we see God does not shift or change in how He sees us and He remains faithful in all that He promises.
The Greatest Reward
The greatest reward one could ever seek has been made evident since the beginning of time.
Genesis 15:1 “After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.”
When it’s all been said and done we will see Jesus and know our greatest reward. The joy of knowing that we will be with Him for eternity pricks the heart of every true believer. To know Him is what all believers experience today, to be able to walk with Him and rejoice in His salvation for eternity is beyond comprehension. We will exalt Him as Lord and King forever and ever, and we will lay the crowns of reward He has given us at His feet and honor Him for all He has done.
Why lay them down after receiving them?
Because in the end, we will know that any good that we have done, He first began in us.
Romans 11:33-36 “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?” Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
….and so was we conclude this thought, I echo what every patriarch and prophet of old has echoed before and will do so into eternity.
Every good thing in Heaven and on Earth is found in Christ alone. For those who have known Him they can testify of His faithfulness. For those who have gone before us, they are experiencing the fullness of God now. Jesus is the One we should be keeping our eyes on and let everything else fall into its appropriate place.
If we keep this perspective, we will find eternal life and that is great reward.