Saturday, January 23, 2010

Rewards













"Far from love the Heavenly Father
Leads the chosen child;
Oftener through realm of briar
Than the meadow mild,
Oftener by the claw of dragon
Than the hand of friend,
Guides the little one predestined
To the native land."
-Emily Dickinson



So often in the news I hear of tragedies far removed from ourselves and my heart whispers a prayer. Death of the old or injured or sick or abused....happens everyday.

What am I to think though, when that tragedy falls upon me and the ones I love? My thoughts spin around trying to make sense of it. My mind, tainted by sin and worldly perspectives attempt to answer why? How could this be? Things like this do not happen so close to my circle"....I don't have to look very far though in my past to see that tragedy is close to home, quite often. In my own family history lies fatal accidents, murder, cancer, death of children, miscarriage, abandonment and adultery, I could go on. As much as the celebration of birth, marriage, and success is life, so are these hard things.

The truth is that I am looking for a reward. I am looking for good things to happen to me as I attempt to "do good" and "be good". I want the good life. Basically, I am looking for what many would say is good "karma." I am buying into the "if I put out good in the universe, it will come back to me" lie.

My human rationale says that living a "good" life should reap benefits and great rewards - here on earth. "If I work hard, I'll be successful." "If I avoid sin, I'll be blessed." Even some false teachers of the gospel teach health, wellness and success if you avoid sin. They skirt around scripture, twisting it and avoiding biblical truth. They teach lies of prosperity and happiness in life if I think good, positive thoughts. "Rewards await you if you stay steadfast in your faith." says popular tv preacher, Joel Osteen, in his new book. Read closer, in context and one sees the rewards he speaks of are earthly: "to accomplish your goal, to land your dream job, to find love, to restore your health." He promises the reader "You are closer than you think to a better life, a richer relationship, a healthier body." Using his reasoning to answer a tragedy that falls upon us leads to a "what did I do to deserve this?" line of questioning. This false teacher is nothing more than a motivational speaker who attempts to use biblical reference to support his claims.

If I trust this man's teaching, how do I rationalize when bad things do happen to good people?! Were they not faithful enough? Did they not have enough positive thoughts? Teachers like him ask me to look inside myself for hope, to have faith in self. Looking to self will lead me to a great void.

Earthly blessings and yes, tragedies, fall on all men, as does the rain. I must stop looking for reward HERE! I won't find it. I can't "make it-whatever it is- happen". Neither will you. I must work for the King and His kingdom, without the expectation of fame, fortune and good health. Sickness, death and tragedy WILL befall me AND the ones I love.

My hope MUST be in Christ alone. Period. His perfect work, His salvation, His redemption. His grace. There is NOTHING I can do to create or earn a reward. Rewards are God's to give and His reward is perfect and eternal. His reward cannot be found in this life! Until I believe this with my whole heart and live like I believe it, I will not have peace. Again, my reward will not be found here and I should not be surprised when I don't happen upon it or when I seek it and don't find it. When I seek Christ though, I will find Him and His heavenly reward WILL be great...not because I have earned it, but because He earned it, and gave it to me because I simply believed - and even that (belief) is a gift. There I must rest.


My hope, my faith, my reward can only be found in Christ. All other routes will render me lost.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing beside you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:25-26



The Lord will reward the believer, but the Lord's promise of reward is not on this earth. Jesus said "Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven..." (Matthew 5:12) I MUST stop "doing and being good" in order to attain an earthly reward, I must try (and often fail) to "do good and be good" out of a love for the One who gave His life for me, trusting only Him. Then, only then, will I find the true reward - one day.


In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.
(Keith Getty and Stuart Townshend)

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