40: "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me." - "We are intimately linked in this harvest work. Anyone who accepts what you do, accepts me, the One who sent you. Anyone who accepts what I do accepts my Father, who sent me."
41: "Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous." - "Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God's messenger. Accepting someone's help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I've called you into, but don't be overwhelmed by it. It's best to start small."
42: "And whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple - truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward." - "Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won't lose out on a thing."
Points to Contemplate:
Are you welcoming?
Are you a radical host who is always focused on the extremes of hospitality? Do you go out of your way to be accepting of others? Do you receive each person who walks into your life as though they are Christ Himself? Do you see that your acceptance of others is directly related to your acceptance of God - that when you turn people away you are rejecting God? Do you realize that building the kingdom of heaven in the world around you is mostly based on your ability to accept all God's people with love and open arms?
What is your reward? Your good works cannot earn salvation, so what rewards is Jesus talking about? You have been saved by the love and grace of Christ Jesus - it is a gift you cannot lose. Once saved, are you being judged by your good works? Is there a reward system in place based on how holy you become? Have you experienced some of the rewards God has in store for you in response to a good work or act of discipleship you have done? Have you felt the joy of discipleship? Have you seen a glimmer of the promises God has available along your pathway to Christ-likeness?
Is servanthood your only pathway to holiness? Or is it just as important for you to learn how to be served? "The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice." (MSG Matt 10:42) Are you able to be accepting of those willing to serve you? Do you realize that they are fulfilling God's call to servanthood in this act and that you, as the recipient, play an important part role in their pathway to holiness? Is it truly more blessed to give than to receive or do these verses indicate that each is equally important? Think back on the times in your life when you were on the receiving end of Christian service. Were these moments when your faith and love of God grew? Can you become a joyful giver and a gracious recipient? Promise of the Gospel:
The idea that God rewards our lives based on our welcoming acts of goodness goes against some of the ideas we, as Christians, have learned to accept. We know we cannot earn salvation through our good works. We have earned salvation by our faith in Christ. What greater reward is there than this? But, on the other hand, Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching His followers how things work in the kingdom of heaven. He continuously provided examples to show us how we are expected to act as His disciples. Our actions reveal where we are on our pathway to holiness; which is our Christian destiny. We are being remade in Christ's image and our good works help reveal to us how well we are doing. Today's verses unveil the importance of being accepting of everyone we meet for it is through our acts of hospitality and acceptance that we receive God into our lives. However, servanthood is only one-half of the story. To fully participate in the rewards of holy living, we must also be able to open our hearts and receive the cup of service from others. It is not more blessed to give than to receive. Each, giving and receiving, are opportunities to open the door to God's rewards that will carry us directly into the kingdom of heaven and into an eternity of blessedness. As we read today's verses the question we must ask ourselves is: "In what ways am I limiting God's rewards and blessings in my life?"