The Believer’s Reward; March 26, 2021

Matthew 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

You could call this verse, “The Missionary’s Reward.” However, it’s not at all limited to those who go to far-off lands to serve God. In many places in the world, and recently even in America, serving God can be very costly. Countless people have been estranged from their families, or even legally disinherited, because they have chosen to follow Christ. In America these days, standing up for Biblical principles can get you ostracized in various ways, cost you your job, get you sued, or even jailed. In a way that’s a good thing, because up until recently, in the US being a Christian came with a number of social perks, and as a result there were many who were Christian in name only. You won’t find that in China, for example. Talking with Dennis Balcombe, he told me that people committing to Christ in China do so with the expectation of at least being harassed by the police, and those accepting pastoral ministry do so with the expectation of jail or even martyrdom. (He himself has been arrested many times.) Just before His crucifixion Jesus famously told us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Just before that He said, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20) The cost of following Christ is real, but the rewards are disproportionately enormous. As Paul noted, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18) As someone has said, “God’s retirement plan is out of this world!”

As a missionary, born and raised of missionary parents, this verse has always been very real to me. I have known several people who were disowned by their family for becoming Christians, as well as many who could have had much more lucrative careers had they not committed to follow Christ wherever He led them. At the same time, the rewards for obedience are by no means limited to heaven. When people expressed admiration to my mother for “leaving so much to be a missionary,” her response was that the only thing she felt she had left was physical proximity to family. I grew up with relatives being “those people on the other side of the ocean,” but at the same time I felt closeness to other missionary families as well as to a number of Japanese Christians. I don’t think I ever felt deprived! God has met my needs, and I don’t think I have experienced active persecution for my faith. In any case, I don’t serve God for the reward, but because He is the only One worthy of my devotion.

Father, thank You for Your gracious faithfulness. Help me respond to You fully, whatever the seeming cost in this world, not to “gain points” but because Your kingdom and Your righteousness are worth more than all the rest of it put together. 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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