Friday, March 1, 2013

The Reward

When a radio host announced a recent death the other responded, "She's received her heavenly reward."
It struck me wrong and I had a lot of questions about this woman:  What kind of woman was she?  What kind of reward did she earn and how did she do it?  What about me?  What kind of reward(s) would I receive for my faithfulness?  Scripture started bubbling in my head about crowns and jewels and rewards, and before I knew it, that's what I was thinking about:  the rewards I'd receive in heaven someday.
God gives rewards.  He is a good Giver.  There are references throughout Scripture to heavenly rewards and blessings: crowns and jewels, for instance.  But those aren't the goal.
But my thoughts went immediately to Luke 17 and Jesus' story of the servant who does his job.  After a day in the field, he does not expect special favor.  He girds himself and serves his master before eating himself.  "Likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’” (Luke 17:10-11)  How often do we think of heaven as something we've earned after a life of service?  We don't.  All that we do for the Father, through Jesus Christ, is nothing more than a reasonable act of service (Romans 12:1).
Our American society, with a feels-good, it's-all-about-my-self-esteem mentality, has lost touch with the reality of an eternal reward. We think that our faithfulness, our sacrifice, our attempts to give up the "good life," have earned a special place in heaven, a harp and a robe and a crown.  And it's not that God won't give us good gifts, great gifts, amazing gifts; but we certainly haven't earned them.  They've been bought at a price, and that price rested on the life and death of our Savior and His Father who lovingly gave His Son.
In reality, isn't an eternal reward  not getting the punishment I deserve? Isn't it an eternal reward to gaze on Christ--unveiled, personal and reigning?  Isn't there incredible reward in knowing I am eternally a citizen of His kingdom?  That's probably what the radio announcer meant, but the conversation made me think.
Last weekend I called home and talked to Dad.  Mom was gone.  Even during our call their little dog went to and from the laundry room looking for her.  "It won't be long until his faithfulness is rewarded," Dad said.
And I've been thinking about that.  Mom sent home special treats.  But Foo Foo kept looking.
What, I wondered, am I looking for?  What gets me up in the morning and keeps me moving throughout the day?  What do I dream of?  What do I fear?  I can only aim at one thing and expect to hit the target. What is that one thing that would find me curled up and resting, sighing with satisfaction? 
It has to be Jesus.  The hope is, "Just a while longer, and your faithfulness will be rewarded with the return of your Master."  There's nothing like it!

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.  And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:1-6)

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