[We are] not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. (Romans 1:16)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Be Obedient to Christ: Amass Treasures in Heaven / Earn Rewards!

by Guest Blogger: Marty Cauley of Silva, North Carolina

God says…

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

The Gospel of Matthew
Chapter 6, Verses 19-21

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.

The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians
Chapter 9, Verse 24

And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

The First Letter of John
Chapter 2, Verse 28


That means…

No, it isn’t selfish to strive for rewards. How could it be if we are commanded in Scripture to do so? The Lord Jesus commands us to "lay up treasures in heaven." The apostle Paul tells us to "run in such a way that you may obtain it." The apostle John exhorts us to abide in Christ so that when He comes we might "have confidence and not be ashamed before Him."

The word selfish means "greedy at the expense of others." It isn’t selfish to strive for eternal rewards, since greed is the very opposite of what it takes to obtain rewards. We must be generous and loving toward others to lay up rewards. Besides, we aren’t competing with other Christians for rewards. God, who is infinite, will never exhaust His ability to reward His people. No one will ever be rewarded "at the expense of others."

It is important to realize that there is a difference between legitimate self interest and selfishness. God has created us with a natural desire for fulfillment and joy in life. This is not selfish, since the true path to fulfillment and joy is in loving and helping others.

The equation of self's interest with selfishness is from Kant not from Christ.

Christ endured the cross for the joy set before Him. So should we.

Marty

8 Comments:

  • Great post.

    By Blogger Dyspraxic Fundamentalist, at Sunday, April 29, 2007 7:58:00 AM  

  • "The word selfish means "greedy at the expense of others." It isn’t selfish to strive for eternal rewards, since greed is the very opposite of what it takes to obtain rewards."

    preach it brother preach it!

    By Blogger Kris, at Sunday, April 29, 2007 11:00:00 PM  

  • So simple, yet so true! Excellent exegesis, bro. Marty!

    By Blogger David Wyatt, at Monday, April 30, 2007 8:14:00 PM  

  • Hi Antonio and Marty,

    Maybe you could help clarify this post by defining what the treasures, prize, and rewards are.

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Tuesday, May 01, 2007 7:25:00 AM  

  • Nutshell: the various rewards that we get are various means of experiencing intimacy with Christ. Rule with Christ. Dine with Christ. Etc. How absurd it is to think that those who want the greatest possible intimacy with Christ are being selfish. It is not selfish to love Christ and to want to enjoy that love to the maximum.

    By Blogger Marty Cauley, at Wednesday, May 02, 2007 6:55:00 PM  

  • Hi Marty,

    Thanks for the clarification. I agree with you, "It is not selfish to love Christ and to want to enjoy that love to the maximum." However, your post doesn't specifically state this. You allude to it with this sentence, "This is not selfish, since the true path to fulfillment and joy is in loving and helping others." But from the verses you've laid out, one might misundertand you and think that you're advocating a desire to amass spiritual treasure that is beyond Christ (if there were such a thing).

    It's also good to realize that the passages that you've provided are not focused on the prize, or awards, or treasure, but rather the life style that leads to that treasure. "For where your treasture is, there your heart will be also." "Run in such a way that you may obtain it." "abide in Him"

    The idea of striving for "rewards" has the possibility of turning our sanctification into a merit/demerit system. As if I can do something on my own to please God and earn an extra crown. Which, I realize, is not what you're saying. But those implications can be drawn out from your post.

    Thanks for the clarification though, I appreciate the response and it did help understand better what you're getting at.

    Maybe you could answer one more question. If the treasure/prize/reward is greater, more intimate fellowship with Christ, how does a person "run" the race or "lay up" treasure in heaven? How do we, practically speaking, obtain this reward?

    In Christ,
    Ten Cent

    By Anonymous Ten Cent, at Thursday, May 03, 2007 6:14:00 AM  

  • You raise a number of avenues that could be richly explored, but it would take some time to mine the ore.

    First, rewards do in fact create merit/demerit system. One motivation for practical sanctification is to merit rewards.

    Second, merit/demerit does not mean that my works are “something on my own to please God.” A proper view of rewards would lead one to not do something on my own to please God. We would rather want to do our work through the Spirit’s energizing us in order to maximize our reward.

    Since rewards are based on work, then the question as to how to lay up rewards is to work. But this presuppose that you are working (or as Paul would say, running) according to the rules. What are the rules? There are a number of them. To mention but three: working for God’s glory through the power of the Spirit out of love for others.

    The fact that rewards must be motivated by love for Christ and others means that the doctrine of rewards is a motive purifier that is prohibitive to a spirit of selfishness.

    By Blogger Marty Cauley, at Friday, May 04, 2007 6:25:00 PM  

  • Hey Marty,

    good stuff!

    By Blogger Antonio, at Friday, May 04, 2007 8:36:00 PM  

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