Many evangelical Christians are unaware of the significance of the doctrine of reward though it is clearly taught all through scripture. The NT mentions eternal rewards 27 times & prizes 3 times. Rev 22:12 teaches that Jesus Himself labored and suffered not only because of His great love for us, but to receive the reward of His suffering – US!
In most churches today the focus is on the here and now rather than eternity, even though the here and after was the topic of much of Christ’s teachings. We hear how to be saved from hell, though less than even 10 years ago. While a “get out of hell free” card is a good motivator, believers need a greater long term vision so they can live a righteous & fruitful life here on earth, especially with all of the temptations and trials. The heavenly rewards mentioned by Jesus, Paul and others encourage us to finish the race well and Christians need to have an eternal Kingdom vision! (Pro. 29:18)
Too many believers are unaware that how they live here on earth will determine not just their eternal destination, but also:
- The kind of resurrection they will have! Hebrews 11:35 speaks of a better resurrection. Did anyone know there is more than one kind?
- The accommodations they have when they get there; Ever book a room at a condo or hotel somewhere and then find when you arrive it looks nothing like the webpage? That is what is happening today with many believers.
- Their heavenly, eternal station; The bible doesn’t teach we don wings and fly around on clouds playing harps in heaven. When Peter asked Jesus what the disciples would get for following Him, Jesus didn’t rebuke Peter for not being altruistic enough but instead told him they would sit on 12 thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel when He sits on His throne after the regeneration! (Mat. 19:27)
- We all won’t get the same sized mansion! Everyone loves to mention the passage in John 14:2 where Jesus says there are “many mansions in My Father’s House”. We have assumed all we do is go forward for an altar call, pray a sinner’s prayer, throw money in the bucket and we’re “good to go” to get our mansion, crowns and everything. But do we really think the missionary living for Jesus on the mission field in a persecuted nation who died a martyr’s death is getting the same reward as a typical lazy American occasional churchgoer?
- God is not a communist. It is not just for God to pay everyone the same, though some feel the passage of hiring laborers in the vineyard throughout the day (Mat. 20) implies that. But that is actually about God employing people for His service coming to Him at all times of life and His generosity in mercy. God does not reward the lazy, but the diligent. The unfaithful will NOT get the same reward as the faithful. At heaven’s gate, it’s not gonna be like the Oklahoma land rush with a race of people to get their plot of 160 acres! In the Kingdom, the first will be last and the last first. A lot of the 1% in the body of Christ today may end up the bottom 1% there, if you get my drift.
Here are some interesting thoughts about rewards!
- God rewards diligent seekers, not passive inquirers. Hebrews 11:6
- There is a possibility of losing a reward we have already earned! 2 John 1:8-9
- The persecuted get a great reward. Mt 5:11-12
- Loving those who hate you gets you a reward. Mt 5:46
- Fasting, giving, prayer & kindness to strangers should all be done without fanfare and in secret or NO REWARD. Mt 6:1-18
- Receiving a prophet in the prophet ‘s name gets a prophet’s reward, a righteous man in righteous man’s name, a righteous man’s reward. Mt 10:41-42
- The one receiving and giving even a cup of cold water to one of Jesus’ disciples, will not fail to receive his reward. Mt 10:42