Pastor's Piece - Future Rewards
by Dr Barry Wright
The Scriptures are replete with stories and promises that assure the reader that the future holds many positive rewards in response to our obedience to God while living here on this earth. We are also told that these rewards are not only given in heaven, but also in our present life.
Proverbs 22: 9 tells us that 'A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.'
Jesus once said in Luke 6:38 to 'Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will be poured into your lap.'
However, we need to recognise that while there may be material blessings we need to look for those spiritual blessings that enhance our lives. We need to be generous because it is part of God's general rule of life.
We are further advised to count heaven's rewards for selfless service as more important than ease or earthly possessions and we are reminded of this in Hebrews 10: 34 where it says: 'You sympathized with the prisoners and you accepted cheerfully the plundering of your property, knowing well that [in heaven] you…had better and lasting possession.'
We also need to learn to treat others the way God has treated us. We see this illustrated in the story of the wicked slave who on being forgiven and set free refused to have mercy toward another slave who owed him a paltry sum.
Matt 18: 32, 33 records the words of his master where he says, 'You wicked slave; I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow-slave, even as I had mercy on you.'
God's forgiveness springs from His unconditional love, and the way we treat others shows whether or not we have made His love our own.
We are also encouraged to conduct ourselves like the New Testament character named Tabitha who lived in the port city of Joppa and as Acts 9: 36 tells us she '…filled her days with acts of kindness and charity.'
Finally, we are further admonished in Ecc 11: 1 to 'Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days'
To illustrate this principle I would like to share with you a short story that took place during the Crimean War in 1855. At that time, a young man was to take advantage of selling some Bibles to some soldiers in Toulon, France, who were just setting out for the War. One of the soldiers was to enquire in more detail as to what the book was all about. In replying the young man explained that it was the 'Word of God'.
Light-heartedly the soldier replied that he would have one because he could well use it for lighting his pipe.
Thinking that his efforts had been wasted the young man thought no more about the incident until one year later.
He was working in central France and had sought lodgings at an inn. The family in charge were in great distress over the recent death of their son. He had been wounded in the Crimea and had come home to die. The only consolation for the grieving family was that he seemed so peaceful and happy in the last days of his life.
They explained that he had found comfort in a little book he always carried with him. They showed him the battered copy of a little New Testament which had the last 20 pages torn out of it. However, on the inside cover he was able to read these words:
'Received at Toulon, at such and such a date, despised, neglected, read, believed, and found salvation'.
The young man recognised the little book as the one he had handed out to the soldier before leaving for the Crimea.
'Cast your bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.'
We need to remember that all of our acts, words, and thoughts will return to us all sometime, somewhere. The great river of time may seem to carry away all the precious fruit of our labours, but we should not despair or cease to cast our bread upon the rolling waters. Somewhere it will feed the hungry.
We are encouraged to put our hearts into the Lord's service, to give our energy, our enthusiasm, our time, our treasure, and our love to Him. We are encouraged to cast our bread upon the waters because God will watch over it, and the day will come when we will find it again on some far distant shore or even somewhere near at hand. If rewards are not given on this earth, they certainly will be in heaven.
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