January 2, 2012

God’s Rewards

When gifts are given or a door held open or a kindness offered, I’m disturbed when those who receive do not say thank you. A grateful heart is important because the Bible says it is the first thing to go when people reject God.

Aside from that, such a response is a reward for the person who makes the offer. The idea of receiving a reward for doing a good thing seems to be built in. Even small children smile and wiggle when someone expresses thanks for what they do.

Thank you is not the only way to reward people.  A good day’s work is rewarded by wages. An athlete might get a medal or a trophy for their efforts. Even the sense of a job well done is reward for some, and a smile from a recipient can go a long way.

Theologians differ on the rewards that God will give, but He definitely rewards those who obey Him. This is stated and restated in Scripture and associated with the return of Jesus Christ.
Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. (Revelation 22:12)
The idea of being repaid by Jesus gives me a sense of anticipation, but also anxiety. I’m aware of the time that I’ve wasted in things that do not matter, and the choices that I’ve made that were frivolous. I’m also extremely conscious of the speed on the clock. The older I get, the faster it seems to move. Jesus’ words, “I am coming soon” do not help that sense of time running out. I not change the past and have less and less time left to build a better life of obedience.

Yesterday we attended Community ChristianChurch in Tamarac, Florida. The youth pastor presented a challenge by first telling us the multitude of choices we face on a constant basis. For instance, there are about 19,000 different ways to order a cup of coffee. Sonic drive-through kiosks have 168,894 beverage choices. He quickly moved to Scripture and showed how God’s people were side-tracked by poor choices. What they choose to listen to or look at often turned them from faith in God.

I can relate. For most of last year, God kept working on me so that I would choose more often to walk by faith instead of by sight. My history has been to pray with great confidence in the power of God, but when I could not see the answer, I lost my confidence. God says that He hears and answers prayer. My choices are to believe Him no matter what I can see, or to believe what I see. Seems like a no brainer, but walking by faith is always a challenge.

The second part of the message was about getting out of my comfort zone. Many times, choices are based on just that. When options come up, I tend to pick the easiest, or the most familiar or comfortable. However, God may be asking me to move into a new zone and trust Him, to again, walk by faith and not by sight, or by what seems the easier route.

The last part of the message included this sentence: “If I say no (to God), God will wait for a generation that will obey, but I will lose the opportunity to live to my potential.” Joshua offered a similar statement to God’s people when they faced new challenges.
Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:14–15)
Choosing to serve God can be about simple things like opening doors for others or saying thank you to express gratitude. It can also be about tasks that are far more challenging. Those that come to mind for me involve hard work. It would be easier to watch television, do puzzles, play computer games, or a whole host of things that are not particularly wrong, but are easy. However, I know they also have no recompense value.

Lord, I am thankful that You have built-in the idea of rewards. While serving You is about loving You and trusting that Your way is the best, even the only way to live, rewards also motivate me. When I see Your face, at the very least, I hope that You will be smiling.

No comments: