Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is it Good to Serve the Lord for Reward?

We are going through Philippians 2 on Wednesday nights and dealing with having the same mind of Jesus when it comes to serving each other and God.  We read there that Jesus was glorified for his faithful work in the incarnation.  Many times we read that those who faithfully serve the Lord in this life will be rewarded in the next and this is clearly said in the context of these rewards serving as a motivation to serve the Lord.  But probably to most of us this sounds a little self-serving and perhaps an unworthy motive for our service. 
Certainly if you go about trying to do what the Bible teaches and your mind is primarily on what the Lord will give you in Heaven there might be cause to examine such a motive as unworthy of service to the Lord.  But the fact of the matter is that the Bible does use rewards as a motivation; so what do we make of this?  To begin with, we must also remember that everything we do must be first of all motivated by our love for God.  That is the first and greatest commandment and without love all of our works and words are so much empty noise and of no value to God.  So however rewards figure into this, our primary motivation must be thankful hearts for God’s grace shown to us sinners. 
Another thing to add to the mix is Hebrews 11:6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.  We can’t please him without faith and faith involves believing that God is and that he will reward us if we seek him.  To me, this puts an interesting slant on what a worthy reward is.  Perhaps how we define rewards will help us in this matter.  If we think of rewards as primarily something God will give us rather than God himself, if we separate God from the reward, we might have a difficult time seeing how working for rewards is a worthy motive.  If we see being able to stand in his presence and enjoy him forever as the essence of our reward then all this begins to make sense.
Going back to Hebrews, faith believes all that God says about himself.  It causes us to believe that if we give up all now for him later, the glory to follow will be worth the effort.  So in that day as we stand before the whole moral universe and testify that seeing our God and Savior is worth all the effort and we would do it all over again; God is pleased with us and rewards our faith by sharing his glory with us.  If we are working for a big pile of gold in our mansions then we are missing the point because we have separated our reward from our “Rewarder”. 
When I think of all this I always think of one of Piper’s great illustrations about this subject.  If, on your anniversary you tell your wife that it would make you the happiest to celebrate your anniversary by spending the evening with her, would she accuse you of thinking of yourself and not her?  Of course not, because the fact that you get the most pleasure by being in her company is the greatest compliment you could give her.  The fact that you can only be happy in her company “glorifies” her and gives you your greatest reward.  And this is exactly why serving for reward when it pertains to the Lord is anything but selfish.  If we are to do all for the glory of God, driven by our love for him and God promises that if we are faithful to such a calling he will reward us by giving himself to us, then it is our desire to be with him (for reward) that will motivate us to obey.  Not only is the hope for reward not being selfish but it is impossible to please God if we don’t look forward to the reward!

No comments:

Post a Comment