why rewards?

Here is a devotional for Our Daily Journey that I’ll submit on Monday. Much obliged if anyone spots any errors before then.

When my children were young my wife and I gave them money to buy Christmas presents for us. It seemed rather silly from our perspective. Why not eliminate the middleman and buy the socks or slippers ourselves? Because it meant a lot to our children. They wanted more than to merely receive presents. They also wanted to give back. Even if it meant using our money.

This Christmas memory helps me understand God’s rationale for rewards. Rewards are often promised in Scripture. Those who joyfully suffer persecution (Matthew 5:11-12), love their enemies (Luke 6:35), or even give a cup of water in Jesus’ name “will surely be rewarded” (Mark 9:41). Various crowns are promised to those who “patiently endure testing and temptation” (James 1:12), sacrificially lead the church (1 Peter 5:4), and persevere until the end (Revelation 3:11).

This hope of reward can be as exciting as Christmas morning, until we realize we’re going to give them all back. If we’re going to cast our crowns at Jesus’ feet anyway, what’s the point?

That is the point. We will stand before Jesus with absolutely nothing except what He graciously gives us. We would be naked if we were not robed in His righteousness (Revelation 7:13-14). We would be empty-handed if not for the crowns He places on our heads.

These rewards are gifts in a double sense. They are gifts from God, achieved only through His sustaining power. And they are gifts for God. God knows His children need to give back to their Father who has given them everything. We may not realize it yet, but when we “fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne,” when we sing, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power,” we’re going to want to offer Him something (Revelation 4:10-11).

God knows our needs long before we do, and He has already taken care of it. Serve Him faithfully, and you will be given a gift to give.

Photo by m01229. Via Flickr. Used by permission.

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