Jesus said that we should seek to have a reward in heaven where neither moth nor rust can affect it. There are several implications to what Jesus told his disciples. First of all, and the obvious, we shall receive a reward. It will be tailored to every single one of us uniquely. It will be special. By phrasing his advice the way he did, it appears we have some authority over what type of reward we shall receive. In other words, and this has nothing to do with our being saved, we can determine the outcome of what benefits happen. We can be distracted away from our search.
After accepting Christ as Savior, we have certain duties and obligations laid on us by the Heavenly Father. By complying to those duties and obligations, we will be rewarded. On this earth we might desire possessions that would outwardly appear to elevate our status in society. However, by whatever means we accumulate those rewards and where we keep them, those earthly benefits remain in danger. An easy example of what I am saying would be if you collected old baseball cards. If you ever sold any of them, in my example, you would become wealthy. Just to possess those cards makes you a unique person. But what if there was a fire and those cards were consumed. The treasures were not retrievable. Your treasurers were lost! The last thing that I would observe about what Jesus said is the enjoyment of rewards. In heaven, they will be the means of enjoyment that will last forever.
Now to the basic question we must discuss is how one can accumulate these heavenly rewards. What can we do here on earth that will cause us to have fantastic rewards forever in heaven?
There seems to be a fantasy about fame and fortune. This extends even to ministers. Just because a person is super talented and admired by millions of people does not mean they are going to get more rewards than the schoolteacher who fights liberalism and atheism as a witness among the school staff. In fact, I suggest to you that a nobody will likely receive more and better rewards in heaven than the rich and famous! With that logic, let us proceed to the “how.”
The Bible is full of commands, advice, and guidance. The Bible uses the example of the truly devout whether famous or not to teach us the difference between popular tourism and perseverance. To comply with the Bible as it says is isby living out its truth, is the main source for an understanding on eternal rewards. Avoid passing over the simple statements and short sentences of the Bible that in the long run prove to be exceptionally valuable.
How we live out our lives against all odds is an important consideration. The person confined to a wheelchair or hospital bed may assume they have no hope of being used by Christ and, thereby, gain special rewards in heaven. This is absolutely wrong! Look at the picture again. That person in a wheelchair may not be able to sing, may not be able to preach to thousands, may not be able to write creative guidance books, may not appear on television, but much of what that person in the wheelchair can do is more important than what he cannot do. Making telephone calls, sending out letters of encouragement, offering sincere intercessory prayers are all examples of what that confined person can do. A person well advanced in years may not be able to assume a new career and may not be able to amass a fortune. That senior citizen is in a better advantage for spiritual and eternal rewards than the young and healthy.
How loyal we are to the Bible, to Christ, and to the leading of the Holy Spirit is a key factor how to lay up rewards in heaven. How we cope with the stresses of daily life may generate rewards. We always have choices. How we respond to the restrictions placed on us in our lifetime may be more of a benefit than a curse. We may look at ourselves as someone who cannot do much for God. That is not true.
How we deal with loss and grief is another way that will determine our rewards. How we maintain a joyful attitude in the midst of strife is another way. Given two choices, when we choose the best will determine your rewards. The silent witness that we present to the world is more valuable than broadcasting ourselves to the masses.
There are many stories of ministers who were famous and successful. Everyone looked up to them. It would seem they could do no wrong. However, their private lives were a mess. How we relate to those in our inner circle that is consistent with what we broadcast is most important. If we testify about kindness, but are unkind to our family, creates a great discrepancy and a distraction from heavenly rewards. How we resist temptation with all our strength will determine our rewards. Unconsciously being a witness that causes other people to accept Christ will allow us to stand before the throne of God and hear him say well done. Paul said that he fought the good fight. Standing in his shadow, fighting the good fight in our own lives will benefit ourselves and others throughout eternity. In fact, the book of James says that if we help someone to be pulled from the fires of sin, we have saved ourselves as well as them.
Look to see what the Bible says about the fruit of the Spirit. It does not say fruits as in plural. It says fruit as in singular. That means there are multiple ways in which we can allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and through us with the result of good things happening. Think of the fruit of the Spirit as a grapefruit. It is one grapefruit but has many sections for the taste and nourishment of its owner. Now think about how you can allow the Holy Spirit to be more active in your life. If that happens, the Holy Spirit will demonstrate himself through you in various ways. How many people do you know who profess to be Christians, yet they have no joy or peace in their lives? This leads to only one conclusion. They are not allowing the Holy Spirit to do his work. They are not allowing the Holy Spirit’s presence to be a fruition of God himself. If you want joy and peace or any other segments of the grapefruit, get closer to God and his words so that the Holy Spirit begins his own form of activity in your life.
Life is more than coping. It is also about caring. Caring may lead to the path of a burden. Caring about a neighbor’s child that is not going to Sunday School is an issue. Caring does not necessarily include social activities such as a clothes closet operated at church. Caring is what you do voluntarily without a campaign or request. Caring is the purpose of God living in your heart. Caring is the outgrowth of the divine law that you seek so you are a blessing to others. Strive to be blessed by God so that you can be a blessing to other people, not that you are blessed so that you can accumulate it to yourself.
There are many things that we no longer can do as we grow older. We cannot go back to college so that we could become a world famous brain surgeon. We cannot discover the secret for how to accumulate millions of dollars even though it would take years to play out. Unfortunately, every one of us will find ourselves in a position in which we discover we are living on a shrinking island. What positive attitude and behavior we have as an outgrowth from our spiritual condition is far more important than being able to get the attention of a luxurious ocean liner passing our island.
Control your thoughts so that you will avoid dwelling on your past mistakes. How you cope within the restrictions imposed upon you by life is far more important than being a famous evangelist or Christian philanthropist. Look not at what should not have been but look to see what can be done in your future. On your deserted island you still could put messages in bottles for others to read on the other side of the ocean. You still can cultivate crops for yourself and any other person that find themselves on your shores. Making worship a common practice is water to your soul. How you deal with problems is a great determination for your eternal rewards. How faithful you are dealing with those problems is an added benefit. Read the Bible and look for those short sentences. See how hard it is to incorporate them into your life. For instance, being kind, is very difficult when practiced continually. Being kind will add to your rewards. Obedience to God’s word and the impressions you receive from the Holy Spirit must not be brushed off as merely part of living the Christian life. Instead, they are vital materials to produce your rewards in heaven.
I once heard a story of a minister who felt he was instructed by God to go to a certain church and preach the gospel even though people stopped attending. Most people would say it was foolish to preach to empty pews. Certainly, preaching to empty pews would not make anyone famous. The illustration goes on to say that a certain boy was playing in the rafters of the old church building. The minister did have an audience even though he was unaware that the boy was there. Because of the minister’s faithfulness, the boy accepted Christ and grew up himself to become the evangelist leading millions of people to Christ. We cannot tell the end result of what you would do for God, but think of your loyalty to God fulfilling what he puts right in front of you. You may find yourself speaking to what you think is no one there, yet in the rafters unbeknownst to you is someone who will pick up your divine message and carry it further and further.
You will not be rewarded as a Christian in eternity for how famous you become. You will be rewarded for how consistent you live your life between the public life and your home life. I heard another story of a man who became a famous preacher by being the pastor of an extremely large church. Everyone wanted his advice on how to grow a church. Everyone wanted to benefit from his influence. Everyone offered praise to him. However, at home he was a tyrant. He was not a Christian at home. He turned his children against God. His home life was that of a reprobate. Do you think that famous minister will have many rewards in heaven? I think not! Jesus preached about a self-righteous and well-known religious leader not having rewards. Then he told of a terrible sinner who threw himself on God’s mercy. Also, Jesus talked about the rich man and Lazarus. The Bible simply says that the rich man died. He found himself in hell. The beggar, Lazarus, was escorted by angels to heaven when he died. What plays out in your private life is far more important than your public life. Spiritual consistency will contribute much to your eternal rewards.