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TRUST JESUS TODAY
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“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…” – Mat. 6:20a (NIV)
Recently, I took my three school-aged children on an errand marathon. Not a good idea. Arguing and fighting usually ensue within an hour, and I start pulling my hair out. Still, I resolved to finish my To Do List.
Before we left the house, I told my kids that if they were good (obeyed me, stayed with me, didn’t whine, etc.) they could get a piece of candy at the grocery store. Of course, everyone promised to be good, because they wanted to be rewarded.
Adults are not so different. We expect if we work hard and invest wisely, we will be rewarded with financial prosperity. Exercising and eating right are rewarded with healthy bodies. We believe that if we read the Bible to our children and explain the things of God to them repeatedly, we will gain the reward of them accepting Christ as their Savior.
I enjoy giving gifts to my children. But my enjoyment isn’t the soul purpose for their rewards. The rewards are to commend and encourage certain behavior. I hope that at some point, my children will want to act appropriately even when a reward isn’t promised.
There are many things we do only for the reward. Most of them are temporary things, things we do on earth and receive reward for on earth.
But what about heavenly rewards? Do we seek to be rewarded by our Father when we finally see Him face to face?
You may say that heaven will be its own reward. And you may be correct. However, God has specific rewards waiting in heaven for us. Who are they for if not for you and me? Are they only for the Apostle Paul and Billy Graham? I think not.
But what are the rewards? Most times they are mentioned in the Bible, we aren’t told exactly what they will be, only that they exist. God promises to reward the persecuted, the faithful, those who have done good works, and those who pray in secret, to name just a few.
Paul claimed in 1 Timothy 4:8 that a crown of righteousness awaited him. Why? Because he had longed for the Lord’s appearing. Can we say with John the Beloved, “Come Lord Jesus”? Are we ready right now to go and be with Him, not because our earthly lives are miserable, but because we can’t wait to be in God’s presence?
John mentions the crown of life in Revelation 2:10, referring to the church in Smyrna. He encourages them to be faithful to the point of death in order to receive this reward. Our world has seen a plethora of Christian martyrs who have already received this reward. Even today, many of our brothers and sisters around the world will take their last breath with a pledge to Christ on their lips. Are we willing to do the same?
Let me assure you that I am not advocating good behavior just to receive the lollipop. While God loves to lavish good gifts upon His children, He also wishes that we would serve Him out of our love for Him. The Pharisees in Jesus’ time were careful to obey many laws in order to be righteous. Jesus, however, issued them this warning: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside, but inside are full of dead men's bones and every impurity. In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Mat. 23:27-28 HCSB) We would be wise to not only obey and perform good works, but to do so with godly motivation.
So, how can we live in order to store up for ourselves treasures in heaven?
1) Believe God’s promise to reward.
2) Serve to be seen by God, not men.
3) Persevere in good works because of your love for God.
Perhaps the most well known story of rewards is that of the three stewards in Matthew 25. Both stewards who multiplied the master’s talents were rewarded with this commendation: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” While this is only a parable, imagine the joy of hearing the same thing from God!
Every good gift we have on this earth comes from God. He is our Provider in this life and the one to come. Since our present lives are temporary, let us set our “minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col. 3:2NIV).
You may wonder if my children earned their treat. Yes, they did. I was faithful to my promise and delivered sweets at the check-out counter. There was silence on the drive home. No one was annoyed. They were all too busy enjoying their reward.
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