Rewards; April 21, 2020

Hebrews 6:10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Many years ago I wrote a bit of doggerel: “Satan is a liar; that I know full well. And every word he speaks to me comes from the pit of hell.” That is very true, and one of his most frequent lies, to me at any rate, is, “What difference will that make? You’re better off just focusing on what is convenient and feels good to yourself.” One of many reasons I know that’s a lie is the truth in this verse. The Bible is very clear, in Ephesians 2:8-9 and elsewhere, that we are saved by grace and not by works, but that doesn’t make our works worthless. Paul speaks repeatedly of our rewards, perhaps most memorably in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, where he clearly differentiates between salvation itself, that is, eternal life with Christ, and reward for service. This is what Jesus was talking about when He spoke repeatedly about “treasure in heaven.” The tricky thing about it is, if we are focused on my treasure, we won’t be able to amass any. However, if we are focused on serving our Lord through serving our neighbor, it will just pile up! That’s part of the paradox of the Kingdom of God. As the well-known Prayer of St. Francis says, “For it is in giving that we receive; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.” To come back to what it says in Hebrews, we must never doubt the character of God, but rather have full assurance that He will reward us, and more, for our commitment and service to Him. That is the path of peace and joy.

As I said, this is something the devil has lied to me about a great deal, but I’ve ignored him enough that he’s kind of quieted down on that point. That said, the current COVID business has stirred him up a bit again. This past Sunday in our annual business meeting we decided to not meet for the following two Sundays, in keeping with the current guidance from the Japanese government, and I am actually a little surprised at the weight of the emotional blow that is to me. I love to meet and to minister! We will be attempting a Facebook Live broadcast, but I’ve never done that before, and I’m a bit anxious about it. I’ve preached to a video camera many times, not just in our services but also for CGN-TV, and I much prefer an audience I can see! However, as Paul said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) However it turns out, if I am doing it for my Lord and for His children, and not for myself, then His purposes will be fulfilled and I will receive better than I deserve.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for this experience, and for confirming rather remarkably that it’s Your idea. I certainly didn’t expect a friend in Australia to be given the word, “interlude,” to confirm that this pause in our schedule is Your idea! I pray that I would be quiet enough before You to hear and receive all that You have for me in this time, so that Your plans may be fulfilled on Your schedule for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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