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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Our Own Glory on Earth

Matthew 6:2-6 (ESV)
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Years ago I heard a televangelist say that he wanted his rewards right now. I don't think he read the Bible much or he would have known that this is not God's pattern of reward. God looks eternally while man looks temporally. People should be looking for eternal rewards.

Let's look at the principle of the above verses. I have already received my reward for my gifts or prayers if I seek the praise of others. I suppose those gifts could also apply to acts of service. Thus, we always bring the crew who fixed the fellowship meal out to applaud their service. We are so afraid that failing to do so will mean that they stop feeding us. Do we really believe this is all the reward they want?

True servants do not need recognition. I say that even though I know it is hard to watch others receive recognition for things that weren't nearly as arduous as you have done. This is a problem with pride rather than looking for rewards for service or giving or even praying.

Many Christians should ask themselves: Will I continue to pray fervently even if no one other than God knows I am praying? Will I continue to give generously even if I know no one other than God knows I am giving? Will I serve behind the scenes when no one other than God knows I am serving?

I know how hard this is. I, too, would like to ask if I could sit at Jesus right hand. I would like to count myself among the venerated. I, too, would like to see thousands coming to my church, streaming my sermons and reading my blogs. All the while, they would tell me how great I am.

Truthfully, knowing this about myself makes me sick! How can I know that eternal rewards await me if I will simply walk in faithfulness without seeking the praise of others and desperately look for the praise of others at the same time? The ambivolence is confusing.

Spiritual things become very difficult when they are not done in the Spirit. Consistently giving (and serving) and praying privately without earthly recognition works against the flesh. The flesh demands rewards here and now. Maybe this is why the "God will make you healthy and wealthy" preachers fill their churches. They are appealing to the flesh. It is so much easier to do so.

Christian maturity requires that we examine ourselves. We ask the Lord to reveal where we have fallen short of His glory. It seems strange to find that our flaw surrounds our giving, serving and praying. We want the recognition of others for our faithfulness. This is pseudo-faithfulness for we were only faithful to ourselves when our actions sought our own glory.

I was created for God's glory. I just need to remember that.

2 comments: said...

Today, it dawns upon me a clearer picture of reward as used in scriptures like Heb 11:6 and this text quoted here, Matt 6:2-6.  Perhaps, it is revelation from the Spirit.  Any encouraging response from God to us is reward. The response from God towards us for our positive meditation of heart or positive action is reward.  Jesus said we have to be like a little child to inherit the Kingdom of God; how true.  A child can, for example, make a card for his father and wait for his father to come in to receive the card, eager to receive the positive response from his father; even a smile directed at the child is reward to the child.  When I pray for others, and indeed if I have done with the right heart condition, it is a positive action on my part, and it is reward to me when God would bring about a breakthrough for the ministee.  When we view reward this way, we can see how readily God wants to reward us, and so, Scripture spoke about God rewarding, that commonly.

Now, the other thing about reward is that it is not wages as such; it is not we do this or that, and we can earn a certain wage; reward is not like. Reward is more of, it pleases God to give, than God has to give, more like the way we use the word, reward, as in, you return my wallet which I have dropped, and you found it and now return it me, with everything intact, including much money inside, all accounted for, and I give you a reward.  It is not that I have to give, but it is I am pleased to give you a reward.

With this dawning, I cannot treat reward and glory as the same.  And so, too, I cannot fully agree that we will only be rewarded after life, after we have passed on, or entered into Heaven, although undeniably, scripture spoke about rewards in Heaven, too. We do get rewarded while we live, currently. Glory, on the other hand, is to be ascribed back to God, in our current life.  We do not share in God's glory in current living; we may share of the Lord's glory after we have passed on, and joined the Lord in Heaven.

Heb 11:6b for example, said that God would reward those who believe He exists and would seek Him diligently.  When we believe He exists, and we seek Him diligently, He will allow Himself be found by us, and that is reward enough. He gets Himself be found by you, currently, not after your death, and that's reward to you.  

Now, similarly, it is NOT necessarily that the reward referred to, in verses 4 & 6 of the Matt 6:2-6 text, is to be received by us after death!  Read it, the text again; it only say that God WILL reward us; they do not say, God will reward us when we are in Heaven.  In fact, they do NOT say specifically the rewards are rewards in Heaven.  In fact, I now believe when I pray with the right heart condition, and my prayer gets answered by God, that answering by God is reward already.

The heart condition is paramount; from whom are you glad to receive reward, God or men?  Whose reward are you hoping for, God's or men's? If it is the latter, you don't get from the former - God.  This ties in, exactly with "for whom are you doing something unto"; it has to be you are doing a thing as unto the Lord, otherwise, why would it pleases God, why would be it that God is the one to reward.  No, if it is not as unto God, it is NOT Him who is to reward you.  We cannot fool God, He is the knower of heart, and so, with what heart condition we do a thing, is important.  Whether we are doing a good thing, as unto the Lord or NOT, is important. 

Cont... said...

Cont. From above

When we do a good thing as unto the Lord, not that you can demand wage from God, but God does reward. The understanding of the difference between wage and reward, as I have explained here is important; for one thing, it helps us to be correctly balanced, so that we do not swing to one extreme or another.  

On the one extreme is that, sometimes, believers insist it is their right to be given what they asked for, or asked for others. While, for example, that we are exhorted to pray for others, it is NOT guaranteed that God must answer your prayer according to what you want.  It is not wage of our prayer is that God must answer affirmatively. It will be more accurate to say we pray, and it is still up to God if and how He would answer/reward. Another example - we are exhorted to worship Him, and we worship, and then, God rains down some crystals or colored stones; that encouraging response from God, is reward to us.  It is the giving of the encouraging response by God, is the reward, not necessarily those crystals or stones, don't get me wrong, here. But it is NOT a must, that God rains down for you, crystals or stones! It can be we worship, and no visible or tangible thing happens.

On the other extreme is that sometimes, believers approach God without really expecting God to response to them.  They may pray, but they do not really expect God to answer them.  They worship but they don't really think God is present by His Spirit in the room, or they do not really think their worship or non-worship may any difference to the session.

Another problem is that we define for God what reward is, and many people want wealth, status or prestige, and applause of men, and for them, it can be, they feel they were rarely rewarded; or they could feel, on the other extreme, they should NOT want any reward. But more correctly, the reward of God includes such as these: His peace and joy, His affirmation, His presence, revelation of Himself, His walking with us, His surprising us or awe us, and His loving gestures.  When we include these, why would you not want these, or would God never give any of these to you, in your earthly life? We should want these; and I don't think God does not want us to have any of these.

Of course, I agree with Ps Prentis that the flesh side of us, wants to drag us to want rewards that will gratify it, the carnal flesh; and the carnal flesh in us, wants to lap up glory for itself, and when we are not careful, we take God's glory for ourselves, which is a definite No, No.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions