Text: Matthew 6:1-6 September 2, 2012
1) Rewards from the world: Many businesses have programs that offer rewards to loyal customers. You can stack up these rewards by using the companies¡¯ services like eating at their restaurants, staying in their hotels, flying on their airlines, use their credit cards to make purchases. Some give rewards in the form of discount; others even give you cash rewards. In time, if you use their service frequent enough, you may save hundreds of dollars for free gifts, tickets or even in the form of checks.
2) Rewards from our God: God also has a rewards program as well. Jesus spoke of God¡¯s desire to reward his people for their loyalty of following his rules, doing his work, serving his kingdom and obeying his word. The kind of rewards God has for his people is more than in material form, but also in spiritual form. In the Old Testament time, God promised to reward his people with his blessings of prosperity and long life. In the New Testament, Jesus promised Christians his presence with us, strength in time of trial and glorious crowns in heaven.
GOD AND HIS REWARDS:
1) Our God is a loving God: ¡°Though you are evil, know how to give good things to your children, how much more your Father in heaven will give good gifts to those who ask him?¡± (Matt 7:11) God loves us more than our earthly fathers love us. He will give us much more and better gifts to meet our needs. Reward is one of the ways our heavenly Father will gladly give to His children.
2) Our God a sovereign God: ¡°For the Lord says to Moses: I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.¡± (Romans 9:15) This is a direct quotation from Exodus 33:19 when God showed his sovereignty on dispensing his mercy and compassion. We need to recognize that God answers to no one when he chosses to give rewards and blessing. This also shows that rewards and blessing we receive are not necessarily on what we have done but on how He shows his mercy to those he chose to.
3) Our God is a generous God: ¡°But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:6) This is part of the giving of the Ten Commend-ments. God¡¯s blessings and rewards are not restricted to those who love him and keep his commandments, but also to their children and children of their children for many generations. So, we can see that love God and obey his commandments is never anything that we pay a price, but a way to receive his blessings and rewards for us, our family and our children¡¯s children.
4) Our God is a gracious God: ¡°When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you¡And remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce the wealth.¡± (Deut. 8:10, 18) If the Lord God bestows on us his blessings and reward, we need to know that it is all because of his grace and not the things we do to justify his giving. Without his grace, we have nothing.
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GOD¡¯S REWARD: (Matt 6:1-6)
1) There are two kinds of rewards: ¡°I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.¡± (6:3b)Besides the rewards given by God, there are other rewards given by man. In the text today, Jesus gave illustrations of how some people use religious practices or gestures to earn rewards of man. Many people work very hard to earn rewards of man but overlook the rewards of God. Rewards of man may last for a moment, but rewards of God will last to eternity in heaven. Man may forget what you have done for them and never reward you, but God will never forget what you have done for Him and gives you rewards.
2) Two purposes of good work: ¡°Be careful not to do your good work before men, to be seen be them... But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand knows what your right hand is doing.¡± (6:1, 3) Either our good work is done for God or for fellow human being we should never do that to bring glory to ourselves, for if we do, then we won¡¯t receive any reward from God. Doing good work for selfish purpose is not good work at all. This is not about what we do it; it is about why we do it.
3) There is no secret to God: ¡°Your giving may be in secret, your Father who sees what is done in secret.¡± (6:4)Secret here is not secretive but unpublished. No one sees your good work done for the Lord or for others. Although no one may ever find out what you have done, but nothing may escape the searching eyes of God. God knows our hearts and all our work, good or evil. God is omnipresent in all times and at all places. Hebrews 4:13 says, ¡°Nothing in all creation is hidden from God¡¯ sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before his eyes to who we must give account.¡±
4) God will always reward: ¡°Then your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.¡± (6:4, 6) ¡°Will¡± or ¡°must¡± in its meaning to denote the certainty of God¡¯s righteous nature. God is never blind or forgetful. He will never overlook the good work you have done. He will and must reward you in his way at his time. Your good work done for others may be ignored even forgotten, much less give you any reward. But God will always remember you and your good work and gives you reward more than you can ever imagine.
THE KINDS OF REWARD GOD PROMISED TO GIVE:
1) To become children of God: ¡°To all who received him, those who believed in his name, God gave them the right to become children of God.¡± (John 1:12) This is a huge reward God gives to us no other religion is ever able to offer. When we believe in the name of Jesus, God¡¯s only Son, we receive this reward not just to be saved but also become God¡¯s children, member of His family. This is possible because we receive a spiritual life, a life from the Father to become his children. That is why when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he started the prayer ¡°Our Father who art in heaven.¡± (Matt 6:9)There is no reward anyone may offer in human history to offer this very special privilege to be part of God¡¯s family. This status includes countless benefits and privileges nothing in this world may come close or compare.
2) To be with us through life: ¡°All that the Father gives me will come to me; whoever comes to me, I will never drive him away.¡± (John 6:37) After his resurrection, Jesus promised one step more in Matt 28:20, ¡°And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the world.¡± This is the next best reward God offers us: His ever presence and companionship with us through the journey of our life. His presence not just brings us security, but strength, comfort to face anything life may bring to us.
3) To receive eternal life: ¡°For the will of my Father is that every-one who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up in the last day.¡± (John 6:40) To be resurrected from death and to have eternal life is something no other religious founders has every offered to their faithful. This Our Lord had risen from the dead, so, he has the power to grant us a resurrected new life that will last forever. Countless people in history longed for a life that will live forever, but none has ever achieved that. This is only possible by God because God is eternal and everlasting. Only God can offer reward like this to those who believe in his Son. All Christians will die like everyone else but we don¡¯t have to worry what may happen after death. God will grant us an everlasting life so we shall be with him forever.
4) To receive crowns in heaven: ¡°Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award to me on that day---and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.¡± (2 Timothy 4:8) Crowns are symbols of glory and honor. That is exactly God has in mind to offer to those who are faithful to him and in his service. Paul told us that the reward of crowns is not only for him, but also for all those who look to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ in that last day. What else you may expect to have when you are face to face with him? What do you expect to have in heaven when you get there?
1) We all love rewards: Everyone loves to receive rewards, big and small, for all kinds of things we do well. We start to receive rewards from our parents when we were babies. Then we receive rewards from teachers when we do well in our school work. We also receive rewards from our bosses when we do good job at work. While all these are good and some may be admirable, but none of them will last a long time in terms of value, excitement or usefulness. But God has rewards prepared for those who believe in His Son, serve in His kingdom faithfully with commitment and self sacrifice. God is never a stingy God. He always want to give us the very best. Is your name on His reward list?
2) Never too late to start working: God is a righteous God, he gives rewards to us according to our faith, obedience, service and commitment. It is never too late to start doing things his way. His rewards are not only in heaven form eternity, there are rewards we receive while we live in this world. Do not face the world all by your own flimsy power. Get in position to receive God¡¯s power while you are here on earth. From all the rewards, eternal life is the most important one. DO not leave this world without that. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior today, then you will receive that eternal reward for the rest of your life.