Living By Faith Blog


Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Should We Be Motivated By Rewards From God?

Rewards from God

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.”

Hmm …

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 —


(Picture is from Microsoft Publisher Clip-Art.)

Category: Motivation for Obedience


8 Responses

  1. James says:

    To me getting what I want (more of Jesus) seems like its selfishly motivated. Whats in it for me? More of Jesus…while that sounds like a good “right” answer the motivation is still about me. Isn’t the point of Christian to get out of yourself? Do you mean the reward, more of Jesus, is more sanctification?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi James —

      Thanks for stopping by and for leaving a comment.

      I’ve had the same question about selfishness.

      What helped me was to see that in His Word God appeals to our desire for pleasure and joy — and says that it will only be satisfied in knowing Him, worshiping Him, beholding Him.

      Check out Jer 2:12-13; Isa 55:2; Psa 16:11; Psa 42:1-2; Psa 73:25-26; 1Pet 1:8; Mat 13:44; Luk 6:22-23; Mat 5:8; Heb 11:26 — there’s dozens more.

      So our problem is not that we seek joy too much — it’s that our sin makes us refuse to seek it in God. So instead of seeking our joy in God, we settle for puny joys that can never satisfy us.

      For more on this — check out the following blog posts (they are hyper-links) —
      C. S. Lewis on Motivation, Self-Denial, and Rewards
      Why Heart-Satisfaction Is So Important.

      I was also helped by reading John Piper’s “Desiring God” book.



  2. Brian Andrews says:

    Amen, brother! My pastor and another guy in my church both recently preached on this very topic of the rightness of being motivated by heavenly rewards. We are supposed to store up treasure for ourselves in heaven. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. He’s motivating us to give by telling us that that’s where the greater blessing is.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      It’s a joy to hear from you, Brian.

      And I’m so glad to hear that biblical rewards are being preached at your church.

      SO crucial! And SO transforming!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your encouragement.

      Much love to you and your family —

      He is worth it all.

  3. Susanne Schuberth (Germany) says:

    Re Praying

    Hi Steve,

    As for my own experience, I guess that I don’t pray in order to show anybody that I am actually praying since I am most of the time alone in my “prayer closet“ (and I don’t wanna anybody to be there with me, since this is a mystery between God and me). At a first glance I would not have reckoned that I pray to receive rewards from God, but on second sight you are right, for I pray because I want something from Him, be that wisdom, faith, peace of mind, an answer to my requests, an advice for a certain decision, and of course the best of all, that is enjoying His gift of Divine Love, His heartfelt presence; it seems to me that this is the utmost reward I am looking for.

    When everything stops making sense…there is one thing I know, that is to say, that Jesus indeed wants to be my heart’s desire, so that I could live every day just to be with Him. Nothing should disturb me if I’d continue living in this way. And here, it appears to me not to be that important if I fail in my duty to pray/think about him all the time, for he knows my wavering heart and my easily distracted mind. I only have to remind myself of all the promises He made in the Bible, and that He will never ever leave me alone as long as I basically rely on Him.

    Although I sometimes feel like a tiny fly in a cathedral, He again and again makes me feel as if He had built this huge cathedral only for this little, unimportant insect, and as if this insect was His greatest creation. Feeling His love so strongly, I gladly say; “I’ll take the cross that will make me a part of you!” However, this doesn’t happen daily – alas, for the ‘power of love’ (Rom 5:5) which I am able to perceive is changeable too.

    Admittedly, every now and then I am discouraged and I feel lonely. This happens sometimes because of this – in my view – seemingly ‘endless story’, this exhausting long way to God, to Heaven (don’t get me wrong cause this might sound to you a bit odd); yes, sometimes I feel like a prisoner of circumstances which I don’t like. If I had it my way…oh, I know how my life would look like. But is there hope for me when I am overwhelmed by such feelings? Yep! This is typical for me, walking by the flesh, and looking at something that is earthly, i.e. my wishes, desires, my circumstances and so on. Walking by the Spirit means looking at Him, closing my eyes and praying to Him, so that I really forget my feelings and the time I live in. Then I have new hope and can begin afresh to trust in Him that He is wise to give me what I truly need at the right and proper time. Experientially I would say, “His Grace is only a day away.” Or as it is written, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pt 3:8)

    But nevertheless, there are also times of dull and dry prayer which I have to endure, since the way through the desert heading to the Promised Land doesn’t provide oases at every turn.

    Every Blessing to you,

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hello again, Susanne — and thank you for sharing your heart and your story.

      I love how you describe the ultimate reward for praying — “enjoying His gift of Divine Love, His heartfelt presence; it seems to me that this is the utmost reward I am looking for.”

      Let’s press in. He is worth it all.


  4. Meridian says:

    Sooooo what I needed to hear today – I love the encouraging way you express yourself and God’s truth in these articles. Coming out here is like a sip of cool water when I’m incredibly thirsty.

    In Him,

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thank you for your timely encouragement, M. I am thankful to the Father that this post has encouraged you.


Leave a Reply

Join 3,436 people who receive Living by Faith updates —

More Help for Your Faith

  • RSS Feed
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube


"I just found your blog recently, and I've NEVER found such clarity, understanding and comfort before." (Sarah)

"AWESOME. Going to mangle this sin tonight with the Promises of God." (Alec)

"If I could subscribe to only one blog, yours would be it." (Lyn)

"I think you are really on to something with this blog. I don’t know of anything else like it." (Doug)

"Excellent comment. Really well put and wisdom that is strangely lacking in much evangelical thinking." (John)

"Thank you -- I needed to hear this. So clear and concise yet captivating." (Stacey)

"Such a helpful post. I’ve bookmarked it and reread it two or three mornings just this week." (Doug)