Thursday, February 18, 2010

God the Rewarder

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
Notice that faith does not just require that we believe that God exists but also that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. We are to seek Him, believing that it is in our best interest to do so, that as we diligently seek Him, we receive something in return. However we might describe the nature of this reward, it is, after all, still reward. So, in this relationship of faith that we have with God, there is God-interest, but that is also self-interest. And this self-interest is not merely incidental, it is required — those who come to God must believe that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

God has often promised blessings and benefits to those who seek Him, trust in Him, listen to His voice and walk in His ways. See, for example, Deuteronomy 28:1-14, where God promises wonderful blessing for those who “diligently obey” His voice and “observe carefully” His commandments (v. 1). In Psalm 103:2-5, David reminds himself of the many benefits of the LORD:
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
In Malachi 3:10-12, God invites His people to test Him concerning the tithe and promises great reward for doing so:
Bring all the tithes into the storehouse,
That there may be food in My house,
And try Me now in this,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“If I will not open for you the windows of heaven
And pour out for you such blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes,
So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground,
Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,”
Says the LORD of hosts;
“And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
In the New Testament, Jesus promises the reward of hundredfold return to those who leave all for Him:
Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mark 10:29-30)
Paul, encouraging the believers at Corinth to be diligent in the grace of giving, gives this promise:
But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
There are many other examples we could look at, but I didn’t mean to post a long article today, and this one has already gone on longer than I intended.

Now, some will insist that we should not seek reward from God, that it somehow makes our faith and our motives impure. “Seek His face, not His hand,” they say. But, to follow that analogy, if you are like me, your hand is not far from your face, and the same is true of God. And the author of Hebrews teaches us something different: We must diligently seek God for who He is, but we must also believe that He rewards those who do so, that His hand is not far from His face. Without that kind of faith, it is impossible to please God.