Tuesday, April 10, 2018

What reward for faithfulness?

A common refrain I hear in the pastoral conversations I have is the precise question, ‘What exactly is going to be my reward for sticking this season out?’
It would be easy to say to such people, just toughen up a little, you just need to be obedient, or do you realise what the consequences would be for not doing God’s will? But such seasons of life are tough.
They are. Why otherwise would normally devoted followers of the Lord so willingly consider walking away because bearing their cross is too hard, too long, too difficult. Their vision for endurance, waned. Their purpose, withered. Their passion, stripped.
Blessed is every follower of Christ to have arrived at the place where serious thought for abandoning God is given because we feel so abandoned. Suffering is a painful reality that teaches us what we otherwise could not learn; we don’t have the control over life that we would like to think we have. God causes us to be there for a while. He knows we would not learn otherwise. None of us thinks it’s too short of a time. At the time we think it’s a blight on God, yet afterward we see it was simply a blight on ourselves.
Well, the hard season isn’t centrally about reward. But our heart must know and accept this truth, and none of us can convince another person against their will. And truthfully, it’s only God who can change a heart.
God gives us life —
the challenges, situations and opportunities
 — and it is up to us to experience them all as well as we can.
Faithfulness is about reward, but not the kind of reward we crave. Occasionally faithfulness is rewarded this side of death. Overwhelmingly faithfulness is rewarded on the other side. But we don’t think about that this side. We should! That should be our focus… one hundred years ago, and back through the pages of Christian faith’s long history, eternity was the focus. It’s what the Bible says.
It can seem that faithfulness doesn’t matter these days. That people are prepared to cut and run. But in the long run faithfulness is the only thing that matters. On the final day.

Not even Jesus was rewarded in this life for faithfulness, and His was a life unsullied. What little, then, does reward for faithfulness mean, even if we are forgiven for craving it?

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