aymon de albatrus
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.” (Rev 22:12)
“What is my reward then? Truly that, when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.” (1Co 9:18)
“Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Col 3:24)
The Bible speaks a lot about Rewards both as a recompense for doing good and a due punishment for wrong doing. Most people think of rewards in terms of material gains, but it was not only material prosperity which Jesus promised His disciples. In fact He promised them trial and tribulation, suffering, persecution and death, for His name’s sake. (Luk 21:12; Mat 10:21,22)
Jesus did not think in terms of material rewards, in fact He had no worldly possession whatsoever. (Luk 9:58)
To the devoted spiritual Christian the idea of reward will never enter his mind, whilst the carnal man with a legal view of life, thinks constantly in terms of rewards. The pattern of Christian reward works this way: the person who looks for reward does not receive it; whilst the person whose only motivation in his life is Christ does receive it.
The idea of reward is not a motivating factor for the true believer but the love of Christ is; the reward is a consequence of his obedience to Christ and his motivation is to be with Him, not by any eventual reward. This does not mean he rejects God’s rewards, he gladly receives them, but his devotion to Christ is not based on them, but the love of the Lord moves him.
However on this earth we are still living in the flesh and are subject to the powerful carnal demands, thus our tendency is to ask our Master the question Peter asked: “Then Peter began to say to him, See, we have left all, and have followed you.” (Mar 10:28) A legitimate question from those that are still under the control of a semi carnal mind as the Apostles were then before the Holy Ghost fell on them after Jesus left this earth (Act 2:1-4). To which Jesus in His magnificent divine wisdom answered: “And Jesus answered and said, Truly I say to you, There is no man that has left house, or brothers, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive an hundred times now in this time, houses, and brothers, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.” (Mar 10:29-30)
Jesus is stating in emphatic terms to the carnal Apostles that God will reward us generously physically even in this life; but He also warns us that this life is not a life of physical luxury. Also He makes it quite clear that all those who follow Him will receive rewards here but will also have persecutions, trials and sufferings in this life. But the blessings outweigh the difficulties by a hundred-to-one margin! Whatever sacrifices we make for Christ will be richly compensated. Confirming that the Christian life, although mixed with difficulties, is certainly worth living in every possible way, indeed it is the only life that makes any sense.
Jesus is not talking in strictly literal terms. What he means is that the things we receive in this life will be 100 times as valuable as the things we give up, as measured by real value, eternal value, not by temporary fads about physical things which will fade away.
For example Jesus did not promise to Paul a life of riches and ease, but a life of hardship: “For I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.” (Act 9:16) Which came true in due time (2Co 11:23-28).
Indeed all that would follow Christ will suffer persecution, which goes without saying that if your life is “roses and flowers”, then your discipleship in definitely in question: “Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Ti 3:12) We all have a cross to carry as our Lord commands us: “Then said Jesus to his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mat 16:24)
In the passages above Jesus promises two kinds of rewards: one natural and temporal on this earth and the other spiritual and eternal in Heaven. The natural rewards are physical and ephemeral for the satisfaction of the corporal body, they are not real and we Christian ought not to concentrate on those but consider them as dung when compared to the high reward of Christ: “Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,” (Phi 3:8)
The spiritual rewards are eternal and of infinite value, with the uppermost being Salvation from Hell and being in the presence of the Almighty God and His Christ. Salvation is the greatest gift a man can receive from God and man should be eternally grateful to Christ for such a magnificent donation. This is the true Christian’s Reward.
The Christian that concentrates on the natural rewards has not understood Christ and Him crucified, and indeed his Christianity is definitely in doubt.
Jesus advised His disciples to "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Matthew 6:19-21). By this, He implied that what we do in this life will be rewarded in the future, but what sort of reward is it? What good is a treasure when there is nothing to buy? When streets are made of gold, what will be the value of gold?
When we will have spiritual bodies, we will not need physical things. Thus in terms of eternal rewards, we should think primarily about spiritual rewards, not physical things that will pass away and this is another good reason for not concentrating on the natural rewards. The spiritual blessings will be far better than the physical things we know in this life. Our eternity in God’s presence will be much more glorious and joyful than physical rewards and assuredly more peaceful. All physical things, no matter how beautiful, enjoyable or valuable, are only weak shadows of infinitely better heavenly rewards.
We do not have a vocabulary to describe what the Heavenly rewards to the saints are, nor we know what they are precisely, indeed Paul saw something when he was translated to Heaven but he says that it is not lawful for him to repeat what he had heard: "How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." (2Co 12:4 )
We do not know for sure the Heavenly rewards but we know that these are far beyond anything what we can imagine: “Now to him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,” (Eph 3:20)
But surely, Salvation is the greatest gift of all. In Heaven all His people will be perfectly happy and satisfied with total absence of any dissatisfaction (Rev 20:4) No one will be able to think of even a puny way in which things could be better. God’s people will have then reached the purpose for which God has created them.
We are to serve God from the motivation of love for Him in gratitude for the huge gift of salvation and not as mercenary who work only to be paid. However, Scripture does speak of rewards, and assures us that we will be rewarded. Therefore it is honourable for us to believe in God’s promises but Rewards are not the only motivator of the redeemed children of God, but are nonetheless part and parcel of the blessed package God has given us: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6)
Nevertheless even though we believe in God’s rewards to His people, for it is part of the complete message of the Bible, our motivation to please the Father (Abba) is the love and affection we have for Him and for His Christ, and that is sufficient for us. If any reward is coming, it is most welcome, but our meat is to do the will of Him that created us and saved us from the penalties of Hell.
Which is the True Christian’s Reward, then?
Christ and His eternal salvation in the presence of the Almighty God in Heaven. AMEN
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found to praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, you love; in whom, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1Pe 1:3-9)