If Heaven is such a wonderful place, and eternal life is worth more than all the silver and gold in the world, why do we need rewards in Heaven? Isn’t making it there reward enough?
This month I want to share a little devotional that I trust will help us missionary educators be the best teachers we can possibly be. (Please note: I did not ask for, nor receive permission to give a devotional in this ACLAME page. I take all the blame!)
This is not a theological treatise that endeavors to lift works above faith. We are still saved by faith plus nothing else! However, works do play a very important role in the Christian’s walk with the Lord. After the Apostle Paul made it clear in Ephesians 2:8-9 that we are saved by grace through faith, he immediately followed by saying that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (See also II Cor. 5:10; I Pet. 1:17; etc.). I see teaching as part of the works that will be rewarded in Heaven if we teach according to the guidelines Paul gives us in I Cor. 3:5-15.
Please take a minute and read the eleven verses in the selected passage. We missionary educators need to remind ourselves from time to time that we are in the race for the long haul. We don’t always see the immediate results of our labors and can become discouraged if we don’t see national pastors, leaders, Bible school teachers and others developing as quickly as we would hope, or the national work demands. In the passage, Paul illustrates his message by referring to the farmer and builder, both of whom must exercise patience if they are going to reap the harvest or see the building completed. All God asks of us is that we be faithful to plant and water the seed, and continue to place the bricks on the wall. He alone gives the increase!
Verses 8 and 14 mention the reward that will be ours if we labor and our work endures. Some commentators view the gold, silver and precious stones in verse 12 as works that are done in the name of Jesus for His glory and honor; the wood, hay and stubble are works that we do in the power of the flesh, depending on our own talents and preparation, for our own glory and personal recognition here on earth. Obviously the fire will determine to which class our works belong. The goal in teaching is to make sure that our works belong to the class of gold, silver and precious stones so that we are assured a reward.
Here it is important to note that a reward, in contrast to grace, is something that we earn; it is a salary or recompense for a job well done. The value of the recompense depends on the giver of the reward, and God knows how to reward His children well! Rewards are individual. As Christians we have so many benefits as the result of being family, or community, but notice how many times Paul uses “each one” and “anyone” in these verses. “Each one’s work will become clear…” (v. 13). There may be some big surprises in Heaven!
Why we do something becomes more important than what we do. “But let each one take heed how he builds on it” (v. 10). Jamie Buckingham writes in his book, Where Eagles Soar, about a church that was doing great in a pay-as-you-go building construction until it came time to purchase the pews. It seems that everyone had grown weary of well doing and that there were simply no more funds available. It was then that a member of the Official Board suggested rewarding each one who would purchase a pew by inscribing his or her name on a laminate and attaching it to the end of the pew. In a short time every pew had been purchased and there was a waiting list of several people who wanted to be next if there were any more pews to be purchased!
So, why do we need rewards in Heaven? I believe that Revelation 4 gives us the answer as we see “the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne…” (v. 10). The rewards really aren’t for us after all! Moses commanded the people in Deuteronomy 16:16, “and they shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed.” Our greatest joy will be to return to Jesus whatever we have in our hands, or on our head, in an expression of love and appreciation for all He has done for us. The loss mentioned in verse 15 is not the loss of salvation, but the feeling that would be ours if we were to stand before the throne empty-handed, or with something so insignificantly small that we would be embarrassed to present it to Jesus.
We are in a win-win situation! As we study and prepare lesson plans, interact with Bible school students and others, and lift up Jesus by our words and deeds in and out of the classroom, we are building the kingdom on earth and laying up treasures in Heaven. It will be our joy in that day to fall before the throne and present back to God a token of appreciation for who He is and for all He has done for us. Keep up the great work fellow missionary educators!