So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. Hebrews 10, verses 35-36.
Is it wrong to do God’s will – to live as He commands and requests, to keep His commands, to model your life on His – just to get a reward? Isn’t that mercenary and sinful?
I’ve been tilling here on the farm. Last week, I tilled the rows between my pumpkin plants. Yesterday, I tilled the backyard that four dogs had made into a moonscape. Down in the pumpkin patch, the goal was to grind up weeds and make it look more presentable. It also aerated the soil, which is great for the pumpkins. In the backyard, once I tilled it and raked it out, I seeded Bermuda grass. Since two of the four dogs have gone to their proper homes, I’m hoping to see green grass. God willing in both places, the desired plants will flourish.
Was it wrong of me to till the field to get a better crop? And was it wrong of me to till the backyard so as to grow nice green grass? There are things I want for my work (namely plants). I’m confident that doing so was the best option for both kinds of ‘crops.’ But was it right to churn up the soil to get what I want out of it?
What about disciplining kids? My grandson has lived most of the last 2 months at our house. He’s a precocious three and bent on self-focused rebellion like all kids that age. If one parent told him ‘no,’ he would quickly shift to a grandparent in hopes of hearing a different response (we usually didn’t give in). We worked to stay united with his Mom and Dad because we want him to grow up to be happy, respectful, and centered. Spoiled kids are rarely any of those things. Was it wrong to inflict on an ‘innocent’ three year old conditions (like “no”) that were beyond his control just so we could obtain a desired response, behavior or obedience?
It is wrong to look at God as a wish-machine. Jesus isn’t some function box where the output in port B is dependent on the input at port A. The God of our fathers isn’t Pavlov’s dog, responding in kind when we give him a stimulus. If we think that God’s rewarding of us is the only reason why He promises us good things, then you need to remember what we discussed yesterday. God’s reward to us is Himself. He shares Himself with us. He makes it possible for us to commune with Him. He invites us to share in His blessings because He, Himself, is the richest reward possible. Being in communion with God’s perfect love, peace, truth, and justice is the single greatest accumulation of wealth that any human could ever achieve.
We obtain that reward when we believe. In other words, we do something. We do it with knowledge that He is worthy and true. Believing in your heart that Jesus is your savior, that God has done all that’s necessary to redeem you from the terror of your sins, is the first (and last) step we take to gain that communion reward. When we believe, we find it isn’t unreasonable to want to do things that please God because He begins to re-tool our way of thinking. Petty things that were once important can take on a different appearance. When we believe in Jesus, we shouldn’t just want the reward of Him: we must expect it. We must expect it because He promised it. He guaranteed He would pour out His blessings on us that we might share them and invite others into His same communion. It isn’t a sin at all, and it isn’t hoping wish: it’s a promise of true hope.
Still, I hope that, whatever my job is in Heaven, God wants me to be a farmer. I love working outside; I love working in the fields and helping good things grow. And I love that my grandkids have gotten to see the fields, and play in the grass, and enjoy our home in the country. It reminds me of better things always to come. God has promised that and I believe in His promises.
For further reading: Ephesians 3:12, Romans 5:3, Hebrews 12:1, James 1:3, James 4:12, James 5:11, 2 Peter 1:6, Hebrews 6:15, Hebrews 9:15.
Lord, thank You for Your holy promises. Thank You for Your rewards, and for making it possible that I might share and share in them.