Sunday, January 4, 2015

Pointless Without a Reward

Pointless Without a Reward
January 5, 2015
Malachi 3:14  "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements. . .'"

Since the beginning of time, every mortal has questioned whether the benefits outweigh the costs of serving the Lord.  If we are honest, we have wondered the same thing, wondered where our reward is for all the rules we have been keeping.  In my personal life, I try to follow the precepts laid out in scripture yet see my non-believing neighbors rewarded when I know they are cheating behind the scenes.  I wonder why the Lord doesn't allow me to receive the reward instead.  Everyone wonders this.  Job wondered it, the Israelites wondered it, and we wonder it still today.  There are a few areas of Scripture that address this exact thing and I hope you will review the Bible to see what I've come to understand.

First and foremost, the Lord does not appreciate when we complain about our reward, especially in perceiving other people (non-Christians) blessed ahead of us.  The Lord charged the Israelites with arrogance for this line of thinking and did not treasure the poor accusations.  Our perception is that the Lord measures our work/reward by human standards and human time-frame.  Remember that the Lord can see into eternity, our future, but our life on this earth compares to a flash of fog that is burned up in a moment of sunshine.  The Israelites thought they had served the Lord and therefore were looking for their reward.  The Lord told them to stop complaining about it, and let Him handle it His way.  He does promise that if you obey His ways there WILL be a reward.  But the Lord NEVER promised a time-frame for that reward.  To understand a time-frame for your reward, you have to dive deeper into Scripture.

Job, who was blameless and upright, appeared to receive a punishment instead of a reward.  But he got rebuked when he said it was pointless to serve the Lord; that there was no reward in it.  Elihu, who is believed to be the voice of the Holy Spirit, told Job that though non-Christians appear to receive a reward and we don't, they will be crushed in the middle of the night.  The reference to the middle of the night refers to human death and not knowing when it will arrive.  The Holy Spirit said when they die, they will be crushed, or sent to Hell.  The Holy Spirit was saying not to compare your Christian life to non-believers, because when they die they will go to Hell.  If you read Paul's letter to the Corinthians, you'll see Paul used the same word crushed.  We, as Christians, may be afflicted in every way, we are not crushed.  It means we may experience hardship on this earth but we will not go to Hell when we die a human death.

Read further in Scripture about experiencing hardship on this earth and you'll come to understand, through the book of James, that the Lord does promise the full reward of Job if you endure this life as hardship.  Remember Job suffered on the earth, though he was righteous.  In the end, Job was blessed after his suffering.  The Lord promises that, in the end, you will receive the same reward that Job received.  ONLY IT WAS NEVER PROMISED WHILE YOU AND I ARE ON THIS EARTH!!!!  So, if you are wondering why non-Christians are blessed and you aren't, your thinking is off.  They may be enjoying pleasures on this earth, but what if those pleasures aren't really pleasures at all compared to what we will experience in Heaven?  They will be sent to Hell in the middle of the night, but you have insurance against that.  Living with this type of insurance against Hell is a far better reward in this life-time than the pleasures non-believers experience on this earth.  And your full reward for your righteousness is coming, the full reward of Job, only not to be received until you see the Father.

If you'd like to wonder why your life isn't blessed yet on this earth, the Lord would say to you the same thing He said to the Israelites when they didn't see their just reward, "you have spoken arrogantly against me."  He is suggesting we don't know what we are talking about.

Don't take my word for it; look it up:  Psalm 118, Job 34, Mal 3:13-14, Cor 4:1-12, 1 Thess 5:2, James 5:7-11, 2 Pet 3:10

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