Summary: 9th in a sermon series on James dealing with principle of rewards in the Bible.
“Our Rewarding God”
Everyone appreciates acknowledgement of effort and achievement. We learn about reward and punishment from the time we are little. Good behavior reaps reinforcing reward. Bad behavior provokes corrective discipline. The concept of reward is thoroughly Biblical. Paul urged slaves to faithfully serve their masters by promising eternal reward.
With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, KNOWING that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. Ephesians 6:7-8
Reward, as understood in the Bible, deals with acknowledgment of behavior. It can be understood in both a negative and positive sense. God’s justice appropriately rewards all those who do evil. We often say, “He will get his just reward.” It also conveys our Heavenly Father’s loving response to His children for their faithful service. We must not confuse earned reward with unearned blessing.
Just as in any family, there are earned privileges and unearned privileges.
Unearned privileges by reason of relationship
• God drew us to Himself and determined to bless us even before we were His children.
• At birth, He gave us a new name
• We became sons of the living God
• We become partakers of the divine nature through the indwelling Holy Spirit
• He promised daily provision
• He promises a secure eternal inheritance.
• He demonstrates His abundant love and care
• He continually trains us and disciplines us
• He gifts us, recognizes us and blesses us just because.
Earned Privileges by reason of responsible faith inspired behavior.
• Blessing for faithfully completing chores
• Praise for a job well done
• Awards and recognition for outstanding achievement
• Recognition and reinforcement for good behavior
• Increased responsibility and opportunity to serve the Lord
Some feel that reward should not be the basis for serving God. We should not serve God just for what we can receive from Him. We should be and do good for goodness sake, because it is the right thing to do. We should serve God for God’s sake. That is a noble sentiment but falls short of the Bible.
The Bible promises reward as a valid Biblical motivation for responsible behavior. Our Father in heaven would not have offered reward and called us to trust a God who REWARDS if it did not play some part in our motivation. A problem arises when we demand immediate reward for our service to God. Or when we only focus on the reward and not the intimacy of the relationship. Something built into our nature strives to achieve.
Communism fundamentally fails because it fails to reward incentive, hard work, achievement or extraordinary effort. If everyone receives the same reward no matter the level of work or energy, people only aspire to the minimal amount of work expected. It contradicts the Biblical principle of faithfulness, diligence, endurance, perseverance, growth. Our Heavenly Father offers reward based on faithful service.
I. The principle of reward
Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
The central element in pleasing God is faith, trust, belief in God. Only a life lived based on faith pleases God.
Two foundational trust points are necessary to please God.
? Believe that He IS! Believe that He exists.
? Believe that He rewards those who seek Him.
“reward” means to remunerate, compensate, pay, reimburse. We must embrace God as a rewarder. Who does the Father reward? Who does the Father compensate? Those who “seek” Him!
The word “seek” is a powerful word.
Describes the intensity of Herod’s desperate “search” to find the baby Jesus.
Describes the priority “search” for the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Describes the intense search of a cast out demon’s to find a new home.
Describes the merchants intense search for fine pearls.
Describes the shepherd’s desperate search for the lost lamb.
Describes Mary and Joseph’s frantic search for their missing young son.
Describes the people’s passionate search for Jesus to heal their diseases
You get the idea. True faith believes that our heavenly Father favorably responds to those who seek Him.
Strange this would appear in a chapter that describes those who passionately sought God and His favor but never fully received the promise, the reward they sought. It mentions Moses who passed up the treasures promised as a son of the Pharaoh resulting in intense suffering with the Hebrew nation.
What would motivate such a sacrifice?
He considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. Hebrews 11:24-26
What treasures of Egypt did Moses chose to forfeit? What future reward motivated Him to choose pain over temporary pleasure. Abraham looked for a city greater than Israel whose architect was God. Heb 11:8-10