We can answer this by examining how Jesus responded to Peter’s question. Peter wondered what he was going to get after leaving all to follow Jesus:
“Then answered Peter and said unto him [Jesus], Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life” (Matthew 19:27-29).
Jesus did not rebuke Peter for asking what he’ll get for leaving all. Jesus’ positive answer encourages us to reach for the rewards he offers. If God wants to grant us rewards to motivate us to greater endeavor, then who are we to tell him it is wrong to do so?
Salvation comes to us as a gift through no merit of ours. But rewards are not given as gifts. They are for those who have earned them, just as the athlete whose efforts earned her the gold medal. Christ recognized Peter’s extra effort, and it will not go unrewarded.
Paul disciplined his body, and brought “it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” (1 Corinthians 9:27). He wanted a full payment for his labor. He recognized that his bodily cravings could invalidate him for a reward. We’ve all heard of men of God who fell because of shameful sin and lost their position. Paul understood that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6b), not of those who fervently seek carnal pursuits, placing their own wills over the will of God. When we know that rewards are given to those who do the will of God faithfully, it will make a difference in how we live.
God will grant crowns to those who meet the conditions. He will reward thrones to those who have served him faithfully. Just about any boy may join the Boy Scouts, but to rise through the ranks in honor, one must earn the badges through effort. Not all will want such honor; they will be happy to make friends and participate in the many enjoyable activities. Many Christians will be content to be saved from the Lake of Fire, and enjoy the many earthly blessings from the Father of lights, but they will miss out on the supreme honor awarded to those who gave their lives in service.
What Do You Think?
a. If a person loves God, but does not do anything that shows it, how would you describe that love?
b. What do you think God is really rewarding, love, or works based on that love? Is there a difference?
c. If we loved the Lord more, in what ways would our works of love change?