Rewards.. Who doesn’t want to be rewarded. We have rewards on gas cards, grocery cards, department store cards even the drugstores offer rewards to shop at their establishments. I have a key ring with rewards tag cards on it but I leave it in the car because it makes my purse to heavy to carry around.
We love being rewarded. We start early in life with rewards. The baby cries and is rewarded by mom’s touch, clean diaper, paci or their bottle. We develop a pattern of rewards even for ourselves. As a child, we seek rewards from our parents, friends and even siblings. We get older and we set goals and reward ourselves when we meet that goal. We have a bad day and we reward ourselves, usually with food.
When it comes to our Christian life, we seldom think past the salvation experience. We settle! We have our ticket. Jesus has paid the price and our place in reserved. We can sit back and rest. God’s got this. Sure we go to church on Sunday and oh yeah, check our worship box. We smile and speak to the checkout person at the local market and we congratulate ourselves. It’s a good day and God is probably happy that we checked in today.
And before I go any further let me state clearly that salvation is a free gift. We are saved by “grace through faith”. It has nothing to do with working for salvation. But when we sit down after Jesus has made a way for us to be with him for eternity, we lose sight of what he has called us to do while we are here.
“Serve the Lord with gladness, Come before His presence with singing” Psalms 100:2.
Once we are saved, we are given the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to “serve”. We aren’t alone; we have the very presence of God, in the person of the Holy Spirit. Our faith saves us 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” Hebrews 11:6
What then is our reward? Let’s look at some scriptures that give an idea.
Psalms 103:2-4 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion.”
All of these things our Father God has given to us who believe that he is the rewarder of those who earnestly seek Him.
For the next few weeks leading up to Easter, I am going to look at the crowns that are the heavenly rewards for believers.
In Erwin Lutzer’s book, Your Eternal Rewards, he writes, “Rewards in heaven are the completion of our earthly story, and those rewards will be eternally satisfying.”
In Psalms 16:11, we read “You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Not only is God interested in guiding us through this life but there is also fullness of joy in His presence for now and forever!
Isaiah 62:3 “You will be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD.” Now that verse is talking about God’s relationship with Israel but Paul quotes from it in I Thessalonians 2:19,”For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?” We are to be a crown of rejoicing in the presence of our Lord at His coming.
The word for crown is “stephanos”. It is a “mark of royal or exalted in rank wreath or garland which was given as a prize to victors in public games.” As a metaphor it is the eternal blessedness which will be given as a prize to the genuine servants of God. (from Strong’s Concordance.)
In the next weeks, we will look at the crowns that will be rewarded. Knowing what is ahead for us will help us to focus on why we have to hold fast and continue in this life. We are to be overcomers, “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith,” I John 5:4 English Standard Version
James 1:12 “ Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
There are five crowns mentioned as rewards for work done here on the earth. The Incorruptible Crown, the Crown of Righteousness, the Crown of Life, the Crown of Glory, and the Crown of Exultation. We will learn more about each of these crowns.
Until then we continue in the faith. Pressing on in the work we have to do.
Gaither Vocal Band I Shall Wear a Crown