Don’t you love a good reward? Many of us are part of a reward scheme, or loyalty program, as businesses like to call them. Supermarkets offer free groceries, credit card companies offer points toward toasters, TVs or tableware, and you can accumulate frequent flyer points with airlines to potentially fly the world for free!
We offer rewards for finding lost wallets. We also frequently see notices attached to power poles put there by people offering a reward for finding their lost dog, cat or bird. Even governments offer large rewards—for help leading to the arrest of wanted criminals.
Many people return lost items and decline to take a reward. They do it just to help someone who has lost something. On those few occasions when I’ve returned wallets, I’ve found that it’s a great reward just to see the relief and gratitude on the face of the person who lost it.
It reminds me of what Christian motivational speaker Nick Vujicic, who was born without arms and legs, wrote in his book, Life Without Limits: “The greatest rewards come when you give of yourself. It’s about bettering the lives of others, being part of something bigger than yourself, and making a positive difference.”
The late Princess Diana once said, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you!” And Jesus admonishes us in the adage known as the Golden Rule to “in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). How much better this world would be if everyone followed this principle!
In today’s world, those who work hard are rewarded with bonuses. CEOs of large companies are often the recipients of huge bonuses. But what you receive for work, even if it’s done extremely well, is not a reward. It’s called wages—something earned, something you sweated for. It isn’t a gift, even if some employers make it look like one. The Bible also speaks of rewards. It has some 20 different words or derivatives that cover meanings from “recompense” to “wage” and at times “gift”.
Unfortunately, all this talk of rewards can make it easy to think we can earn the greatest reward of all: God’s forgiveness.
However, the apostle Paul is extremely clear that God’s great gift of grace has nothing to do with anything we can do to earn it. “Now to the one who works,” he says, “wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness” (Romans 4:4, 5). We must accept by faith what God offers.
When are God’s rewards given?
So are there any rewards for believing in God? Most people want some return for their faith here and now, and that can happen. Christians receive peace and joy from knowing that their sins have been forgiven.
However, we can also look forward to something better when Jesus returns, when God’s final rewards are handed out. Jesus Himself said that “the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done” (Matthew 16:27). Remember though, that these rewards are on the basis that we accept His gracious gift of life by believing in Jesus and living in harmony with His laws and principles.
The idea of rewards at Jesus’ second coming is repeated at the end of the Bible when Jesus says, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Revelation 22:12).
But what exactly is this reward? It’s immortality, forever dwelling in the presence of God in a perfect world. “Do not let your hearts be troubled,” Jesus said to His disciples. “You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1–3).
Thus it’s clear that God’s reward, His gift of eternal life, will be given to us when Jesus returns. As the prophet Isaiah said, “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him” (Isaiah 40:10, 11).
What a wonderful, generous God we have who offers to everyone the reward of an eternal life with Him. And it’s a reward that’s so easily obtained: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
The promise is sure, His word is certain. He’s coming soon with His rewards for all those who believe in Him!