In Matthew 25 Jesus tells the story of a man who was going on a journey. He entrusted his money to three of his servants. Two of them doubled what he had given them and one of them did nothing with his. To the two that doubled his money, they both received a commendation from their master as he told them, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
How did they get to the well done? If you are careful, you might miss the reason behind how they got there. That’s why I want to share with you two very important principles to help you understand they way God gives out rewards.
We may not think about if often, but when you read the Bible it is clear that God will reward those who work. Just look at these scriptures:
As you can see very clearly, God will give out rewards when we get to heaven. Those who work for the Kingdom will be rewarded. This is what happened to the two men in Matthew. Because of the work they did, their master rewarded them. The same is true for us. If we work, God will reward.
However, what I want you to focus on is what the basis for the reward is, which leads to the second aspect of God’s reward system.
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One thing people may assume when reading this story in Matthew 25 is that the master was rewarding them because they doubled his money, but we must look a little closer. Notice what he told the servants.
He called them good and faithful. He recognized that they were diligent and responsible in handling what he had given them, and this was the basis for their reward. You might not be convinced, but it is his message to the third servant that ties it all together. If you remember, this was the servant who went and hid what the master had given him. When the master returned, he called him wicked and lazy. Then he said this:
It is in this verse that you see the basis for God’s reward. The man who was given no reward did so because he put in no effort. He got nothing because he did nothing. This can be freeing because so often we think God expects results from us. He doesn’t. What he expects is obedience and effort. When you jump ahead to 1 Corinthians, Paul understands this point.
I hope you see this coming through in these verses. We are responsible for the work we do. In this case Paul and Apollos planted and watered seed, but only God can make it grow. However just for planting and watering they will be rewarded for their labor. As I said before, God rewards effort and obedience, not results.
Someone recently told me they always felt bad because they would go and share the gospel and if the person didn’t accept Christ they felt like a failure. I had to point them back to this verse. The truth is we cannot control the outcomes, we can only control the inputs. That’s why in the Bible God never told us to go out and get people saved. He said to go out and preach the gospel. We can’t control who gets saved – that is the work of the Holy Spirit to work in people’s hearts to draw them to Christ.
Let me be clear, this does not mean you don’t care about results, because everyone wants to be productive and see fruit from their work. What this means is that if you have done what God has asked you to do and done it faithfully, then you have completed your assignment. Regardless of the outcomes, there is a reward waiting for you.
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This leads me to the one question that you should ask yourself every day. Here it is.
Have I given God my best effort today?
Think about whatever you do. Whether it is in the home, in the community, on the job, in your school, in the church, or wherever it is, have you given God your best? As I said before, not having to worry about the results does not mean you don’t care about the results. Because you care, you should commit yourself to getting better at what you do and trying to improve your results. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve your results as long as you don’t sacrifice your obedience in the process. Compromised obedience is disobedience, which is sin, and there is no reward for that.
Each day at the beginning and at the end of the day the question that should be resonating in your heart is have you given God your best effort today? If you have, then you can sleep well. But if you haven’t, that’s what the new day is for. You can start all over and give God your very best, because after all that is what he wants. He wants your very best effort, and he will take care of the results. I leave you with this verse.
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purpose which will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new book The Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life. Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but can’t seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.