Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
(Matthew 5:11-12 NIV)
Do you expect to get a big reward in this life for following Jesus? Or, do you expect the reward to be in the next life? Do you expect the reward in this life to be greater than the cost in this life?
Many people stop following Jesus as soon as the cost outweighs the immediate reward in this life. As Jesus said:
“...when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away.” (Mark 4:17)
The people who immediately fall away fail to understand or value the reward that will be in heaven for those who faithfully follow Jesus.
Certainly, there are benefits in this life for following Jesus. However, the emphasis in the New Testament is on future reward:
If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. (1Corinthians 15:19)
Part of living by faith is understanding that God rewards those who follow him, and understanding that the reward is primarily in the future, more than in this present age. In speaking of people with faith, the author of Hebrews writes:
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. (Hebrews 11:6)
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. (Hebrews 11:13)
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)
What about you? Are you looking ahead to a future reward? Or are you looking primarily for reward in this life?
For Further Reflection
Matthew 16:27: Future reward from Jesus.
Luke 6:35: Great reward.
1Corinthians 3:6-15: Building for a reward.
2Corinthians 5:1-10: An eternal house in heaven.
Ephesians 6:8: Receiving back from the Lord.
1Timothy 6:3-19: Keeping worldly wealth in perspective.
1Peter 1:3-9: An inheritance kept in heaven for you.
Revelation 22:12: The Lord will repay everyone.
Psalm 73: Present inequality; future glory.
Revelation 21:3-7: A new heaven and a new earth.
Revelation 22:3-5: They will reign forever and ever.
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