Friday, December 6, 2013

A Rewards Program That is Out of This World

 At this time of year, many businesses as well as credit card companies offer a reward system for buying things.  While it can be an incentive for a purchase, it also can lead to a free meal or movie when the points accumulate.  Choosing to spend our money with care using the rewards can make a lot of sense especially at Christmas.
     Did we ever consider that God also has a reward system?  Jesus spoke about this in "The Sermon on the Mount" when He discussed loyalty in serving Him.  In Matthew 5:12 he tells us "to rejoice...for great is your reward in heaven" when we suffer persecution for His sake.  At the time of our difficulty it does not seem to us to be pleasant, but God sees our heart.  For those who remain faithful, they will receive a reward in heaven.
     Contrast this type of attitude with that of the Pharisees.  They had a pious habit of giving, praying in public, fasting so all would know it and giving their alms that men may see them.  Their pride of life betrayed the fact that they were merely going through the motions.  Jesus called them whitewashed  sepulchers (graves) that looked good on the outside but were full of dead men's bones (Matthew 23:27).  These leaders ought to have know better since they studied the Word and tried to carefully observe the Law.  Yet, going through rituals, following laws, praying and doing your good deeds in public does not earn us salvation.  Only regeneration by the Holy Spirit can awaken our hearts and make us ready to hear truth.
     Jesus pointed out that we are to do our good works in private to be known by God.  He said, "your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly" (Matthew 6:4,6,18).  When we serve our Lord Jesus out of gratitude for what He did for us, we have a right heart motive.  We will find that faithfulness does not create any lack in our lives regardless of the cost to us.
     Keep in mind that we do not serve Jesus just for rewards.  Nor do our good deeds make us any more saved.  God has done it all for us.  Loyalty and good deeds, rather, are to be done as an act of worship that exemplifies our thankfulness for His sacrifice.  In return, Jesus delights to encourage us with the peace of knowing that His rewards will outweigh whatever we have given up for Him.
     This Christmas let us live for Jesus regardless of the cost to us.  As we give ourselves away to serve others in humility and love, we will find a joy like no other.  His rewards last forever but the things of earth will pass away.  Selah!

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