Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Wanting the Reward

Every once in a while I come across someone saying something along the lines that we should love God so much that we would honor and serve Him even if there were no reward involved and we got nothing out of it. The basic argument essentially ends with the idea that if we really love God, we won’t care much about the reward of Heaven He offers. That will simply be a bonus top of everything else.

I have to say I don’t find this concept anywhere in the Bible.

In Hebrews 11 the writer states of the Old Testament patriarchs,
These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

In John 14, Jesus, tells people to store up treasures in Heaven rather than earth, then during the Last Supper promises the Apostles mansions in His Father’s house. In Romans 8 Paul writes about the hope we (and creation!) have in being free from corruption. Revelation is filled with talking about the rewards God showers upon His people who remained faithful to the end.

I bring all this up to say this: if God Himself does not expect us to give ourselves over to Him for nothing, who are we to argue and disagree with that?

God has given us every chance and opportunity to be His special people. He sent Jesus His Son to die and be raised again so we could know His love for us and be set free from the power of sin and death. He makes all who put their faith in Christ and follow His path children of the Most High King. And then He goes another step and offers eternal rewards and treasures that far surpass anything we could possibly hope for in this present life.

In I Corinthians Paul through the Holy Spirit writes not to run for nothing, but to “run in such a way that you may obtain the prize.” It is a good thing to desire and chase after the promises of God. Desiring the reward God offers does not lessen our love for God, but shows that we want what God wants to give. It is a recognition that God’s promises are far greater than anything we could achieve in this life.

So let us, as God’s people, love our Father in Heaven, and chase after what He wants us to want – eternal life in perfect fellowship with Him, and all the good rewards He offers to His people.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” (Exodus 13:17).

Reading through the story of the exodus, I came across this verse some time ago, and thought it interesting that even though Israel had just seen Egypt utterly decimated by the 10 Plagues, God recognized that Israel still needed time to separate itself from Egypt in a peaceful way. Instead of throwing them “from height to height,” God gave them rest a time of rest and peace so they could be mentally and spiritually prepared for what was coming. We know they were already physically prepared, since in verse 18 we read “And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.”

Israel had the physical tools necessary to get the job done; God had already seen to that. However they did not have the mental and emotional (and likely – spiritual) tools that were needed. They had been slaves for generations. They were no Spartans, trained for battle from childhood. They were brick makers, bakers, and sheep herders.

And so God took Israel the long way. He destroys the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, He feeds them mana and quail from heaven, He provides water for the nation from a large rock, He meets them on Mount Sinai showing His power and giving His Law. He confirms His covenant and tells them of the conquest of Canaan they are about to embark on. He gives the instructions for building the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant. Then He fills the Tabernacle with His glory and rests on the Ark.

In all these things God takes the time necessary to prepare His people. He shows them what it means to be His chosen people, and does everything necessary to equip them to carry out His will. Rather than throwing them in the deep end, He shows them how to swim, then says “Go.”

We see the same in the New Testament. The Apostles live with and listen to Jesus for 3 years, day in and day out. The entirety of Paul’s life appears as one big preparation before he meets Jesus on the road to Damascus. The church is in near-constant prayer and encouragement together from when Jesus ascends to the Day of Pentecost. We see God prepare His people, then tell them to act.

And act they do! Israel (after a bad miss), takes over Canaan. The Apostles preach and teach no matter what persecution comes. Paul goes across the known world teaching the Gospel. The church grows and spreads.

Things are the same for us. You may be in a time of preparation, or a time of action. It takes a genuine look at things to see which it is. If you are in a time of preparation, be prepared to take action when the time comes. If you are in a time of action, use what God has prepared you with to the best of your ability. But wherever we are, let us be faithful, trusting that God will lead if we will follow.