When our children were young, my wife and I gave them money to buy Christmas presents for us. Why not simply buy the socks or slippers ourselves? Because it meant a great deal to our kids. They wanted to give as well as receive presents, even if it meant using our money.
This helps me understand God’s rationale for rewards. Those who joyfully suffer persecution, give a cup of water, or love their enemies in Jesus’ name “will surely be rewarded” (Matthew 5:11-12; Mark 9:41; Luke 6:35). Various crowns are promised to those who “patiently endure testing and temptation,” sacrificially lead the church, and persevere until the end (James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4; Revelation 3:11).
The hope of rewards can be as exciting as Christmas morning, until we realize we’re going to give them all back. If we’re going to cast our crowns at Jesus’ feet anyway (Revelation 4:10-11), what’s the point?
That is the point. We’ll stand before Jesus with absolutely nothing except what He’s graciously given us. We’ll be naked if not robed in His righteousness (Revelation 7:13-14), our head uncovered, if not wearing the crowns He provides.
These gifts are from God, achieved only through His sustaining power. But they’re also gifts for God. God knows His children need to give back to their Father who has given them everything. We may not realize it yet, but when we “fall down and worship the one sitting on the throne” and sing “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power,” we’re going to want to offer Him something (Revelation 4:10-11).
God knows our needs long before we do, and He’s already taken care of it. May we serve Him faithfully, celebrating the great gift of His love for us.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: 1 Timothy 6:3-21
Read Matt. 25:14-30 to see how some servants were rewarded (or not!) for being good stewards of what their master gave them.
You don’t have to wait until heaven to give something to Jesus. What has He given you that you can share with others in His name today?