Jun 6, 2012
Sunday I preached on Mat 6:1-6 — where Jesus says that if we give or pray to be praised by others — that’s all the reward we will receive.
Instead — He calls us to give and pray with no thought of being praised by others — and “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Sounds like Jesus wants us to be motivated not by rewards from people — but by rewards from God.
Are you motivated by rewards from God?
Think of the last time you gave money — or prayed.
Were you thinking —
If I give — or if I pray — the Father will reward me?
My guess is — probably not.
But why not?
After all, Jesus repeatedly motivates us with rewards —
- Blessed are you when others revile you … for your reward is great. (Mat 5:11-12)
- Love your enemies … and your reward will be great. (Luke 6:35)
- If your work is built on Christ, you will receive a reward. (1Cor 3:14)
- Do you not know that in a race … only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. (1Cor 9:24)
- See also Heb 11:6; Heb 10:35; Heb 11:26; 2Jo 1:8; Luke 14:13-14; etc.
So why aren’t we motivated by rewards?
One reason is because —
We don’t understand what the reward is
You may have heard that the reward is health or wealth.
But that bothers you — it just doesn’t feel right to obey Jesus to gain health or wealth.
And you are correct — that shouldn’t feel right — because that’s not what Jesus taught.
Jesus promises a reward infinitely better than health or wealth — the reward of more of His nearness, more of His presence, more of Him — now and forever.
You can see that in John 14:21 —
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.
Jesus motivates us by saying — the more you keep My commands — the more I will manifest Myself to you.
So what’s the reward? More of Jesus Christ.
(You can see that taught in Mat 5:8; John 17:24; Eph 3:19; Phil 1:21; Phil 3:8; Col 1:27; Heb 12:14; 1Pe 1:13; 1Pe 4:13; Rev 22:3-4.)
Jesus Christ is the reward.
Try this out
First — think of an area in which you struggle to obey. Maybe it’s —
- Connecting with neighbors to help them come to Christ
- Reading God’s Word
- Avoiding gossip
- Being part of a community of believers
Then — think of times when Jesus has powerfully manifested Himself to you — when you have felt His love, tasted His glory, experienced His nearness.
And then — hear Jesus speaking John 14:21 to you —
As you obey Me — I promise to manifest Myself to you more deeply. I will give you a greater experience of My love, My glory, and My nearness.
What happens when you do this?
Your motivation will rise. Your heart will stir. You will want to obey.
Unless … unless your heart is trusting something besides Jesus to satisfy you.
In that case — the promise of Jesus’ presence won’t motivate you.
So you will need to fight the fight of faith until you feel the Spirit changing your heart.
And then when He does — when you feel the all-satisfying presence of Jesus Christ — the thought of more closeness with Him will stir you to obey.
The most powerful fuel
Your Christian life is like a rocket on a launching pad.
To launch into love and obedience and bold ventures for the kingdom — you need powerful fuel.
The most powerful fuel is Jesus’ promise of reward — the reward of His presence.
Fuel your rocket with this reward — and your Christian life will blast off in ways you never thought were possible.
Questions? Feedback? Concerns?
I’d love to hear them — leave a comment below. Thanks.
Do you know someone who would be helped by this post on rewards from God? Email it to them using the “share” button — or use the buttons to share this on other social media.
If you would like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts — subscribe here. (I will only use your email address for Living By Faith Blog communications — and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.)
And here’s some related posts you might find helpful —
C. S. Lewis on Motivation, Self-Denial, and Rewards
My Shocking Discovery about Motivation
6 Reasons Heart-Satisfaction Is Crucial
Jonathan Edwards' Experience of the Glory of Christ
(Picture is from Microsoft Publisher Clip-Art.)