Hebrews 11:6 (NIV), “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
God rewards us. Pretty cool huh? There are many actions and activities that He rewards. There is a prize at the end of the race (Phil 3:14), a crown for those who persevere (James 1:12), perfect peace for those who set their minds on Him (Isaiah 26:3), and I could keep going. But according to Matthew we can either store up treasures here on earth or we can store up treasures in heaven.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NLT), “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”
Jesus was probably talking about worldly goods here, because rust, moths, and thieves take these kinds of things away from us. However, I don’t think it would be stretching this scripture to include recognition of men, or self aggrandizement because if we continue to read on in Matthew, Jesus warns us of doing just that.
Matthew 6:1-6 (KJB), “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Did you catch what kind of reward we get for wanting to “be seen of men”? Oh, there is still a reward; it’s the recognition of men. That reward lasts for a season, it is fleeting, fame is fickle. The fifteen minutes of fame that people used to talk about has now turned into fifteen seconds. The media has overloaded us with information on so-called famous people and their deeds. Millions watch “reality” tv to see every detail of someone’s life, the good, the bad, and most of the time the ugly. “I don’t want that kind of fame”, you say. Do you want the people in your life to know about all your good deeds? Do you spend more time talking about what you do than what God did through you? Do you only volunteer for the jobs that you can be seen doing? At work, do you have to take credit for everything you do above and beyond the call? At school, do you need to be the center of attention all of the time? Same thing. You may think that is a great reward, but it never lasts. Why? Because we may look good one day, then mess up the next. That perfect “hair day” is called a day for a reason.
What’s worse is that most people can’t handle being around someone like that. Those seeking fame, recognition and acceptance through their actions may write it off as jealousy, but I assure you that isn’t what it is. There is just something about a person who is so insecure, or so puffed up that they have to be in the spotlight, that turns our stomachs. On the other hand when we find out someone did something behind the scenes, whether it is simple or grand, we feel good about that. It touches our hearts. They did it because it needed done. They were motivated by love not by recognition. Sometimes they may have done it as simple obedience to God and His word. They may have had to grit their teeth and do it. It isn’t always fun cleaning toilets or dealing with hard situations, but obedience is better than sacrifice.
In Matthew, Jesus promises us that when we do our good deeds in secret that the Father rewards us openly. One day someone is going to say, “Let’s thank so and so for all they have done,” and more than likely that person will blush and be embarrassed, or maybe grin like it’s their birthday and give God the glory.
There is always something to do. We are called to do good works, and there will be rewards.
Ephesians 2:10 (NIV), “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
There are two kinds of rewards: eternal or temporal. One lasts forever, the other is only temporary, fleeting.
What kind of reward do you want?