Our Bible college professor had just lectured on heavenly rewards for serving God. One student’s hand shot up.
“Shouldn’t we just do things for the Lord because we love him, and not for the sake of rewards?” he asked.
I don’t recall the professor’s answer, but I do remember leaving class pondering that remark.
A few years later, in the early phase of raising three kids, the answer to my classmate’s question finally dawned on me.
Every good parent knows incentives help children be motivated to do good. (In fact, every good employer understands this same principle.)
Any system which employs only punishment, but no reward, is destined to fail.
God is good to us, His children. He understands that we need rewards for our good behavior. As much as we would like to think that love alone will motivate us to serve Him, He knows what we need better than we do.
So, He offers us rewards.
Some of those rewards are gifts we get to enjoy in the short term, during our earthly life.
You know, like the first time you laid eyes on an infant who would have died unless you helped her teen mom think through her pregnancy options.
Or the satisfaction you experience when a couple not only changes their mind about abortion but decides to take your life skills classes on finances to gain a more hopeful future.
Such sweet rewards do help keep us going, don’t they? But wait, there’s more. Much more.
Every Christian can expect certain rewards in the age to come for what he or she has done for the sake of Christ.
To clarify, we’re not talking about salvation here—as Christians, we are deeply grateful to the mercy God has extended to us in Christ. We know, big picture, we will not get what we deserve—what a huge relief!
Yet there’s an accounting of our works which is not about our salvation. This record-keeping has to do with future rewards.
Scripture abounds with this theme, beginning in the Old Testament: The Psalmist writes:
“…faithful love belongs to you, Lord. For you repay each according to his works.” – Psalm 62:12
The wisdom of Proverbs offers this nugget, highly relevant to those of us in pregnancy help ministry:
“If you do nothing in a difficult time, your strength is limited. Rescue those being taken off to death, and save those stumbling toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we didn’t know about this’ won’t he who weighs hearts consider it? Won’t he who protects your life know? Won’t he repay a person according to his work?” –Prov. 24:10-24
(You ARE doing something about those being taken off to death. God sees. God keeps account. And He is pleased.)
Then in the New Testament, Paul offers some fascinating words. While this passage does speak about salvation, note what comes to those who are persistent in doing good—glory, honor, immortality, and peace:
“He will repay each one according to his works:[a] eternal life to those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality; but wrath and anger to those who are self-seeking and disobey the truth while obeying unrighteousness. There will be affliction and distress for every human being who does evil… but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does what is good..." –Rom. 2:6-10
Paul tells us there is a judgment for believers, not regarding salvation, but regarding works:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” – 2 Cor. 5:10
He exhorts us:
“Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as something done for the Lord and not for people, knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ”. – Col. 3:23-24
John reminds us of the same principle in the book of Revelation:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” – Rev. 22:12
He lovingly reminds us to stay in the game:
“Watch yourselves so that you don’t lose what we[a] have worked for, but that you may receive a full reward.” – 2 John 1:8
In Unleashing Your Courageous Compassion, I’ve written about how much it means to God when we work to protect the lives of His most vulnerable, precious image-bearers.
There is no doubt that life-affirming work counts big in God’s eyes. There is no doubt that His heart swells with joy every time a new life is rescued.
Tweet This: There's no doubt that life-affirming work counts in God’s eyes-There's no doubt that His heart swells w/joy every time a new life is rescued
He is a good and loving Father, and He is faithful. The smallest good deed, done in a corner without an audience, will surely not escape His notice.
Be encouraged. Your labor goes far beyond what you can see right now. Don’t lose what you’ve worked so hard for. Receive a full reward.
One day, it will all be more than worth it.