July 2, 2014

Counterfeit Reward: An End That You Can Live With

I've now come to the understanding that the remainder of my life needs to be used to serve others. I have also come to the conclusion that I may or may not be in a leadership position. I also know that my will is subservient and is now to be the will of the One who died for me and saved me. I know also that everything in my sinful life will fight these facts and I will struggle through nearly all of it. The Spirit indwelt portion of me will delight in my mediocrity and be glad. Service may come easy in some situations but it will not be easy in all situations.

I will need to find joy in service to others. I will need to find joy in humility and servitude. I will need to find joy in meekness. The sinful man in me will hate every minute of it. The Holy Spirit indwelt portion of me will revel and rejoice in the service and meekness. To be able to do this I will need to stop doing things for perceived rewards including the things every Christian has taken for granted or assumed would always be there: Marriage, family, employment, etc. None of these things are guaranteed. The only certainty is death, taxes and either salvation in Christ if one repents or condemnation and Hell for those that don’t.

Philippians 2:1-4 ESV ~ “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others

I have intellectually accented to the above passage from Paul in Philippians long ago but until just recently, it failed to have its true impact on me because I did not fully grasp it. It is calling us to service for others in humility…and to do so with joy that would come if one did the service with the heart of God. The next passage shows that the things we do in servitude to others is not for reward (but reward would be given anyway).

Matthew 6:1-4 ~ “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “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. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

When we do things for reward we do them here and now for something that will perish in this world. So, the reward here is temporary and will die with us. We are doing things to win worldly garbage. It makes no sense. Pointless really. I fear many do not see that some of the things they take for granted in their life are actually rewards. If the mundane, commonplace are pulled out from under us we feel as if we’ve had something stolen from us that we are entitled to. We feel as if we deserve them.

Admit it, even we as Christians do this. How many times this year alone have you heard others or even yourself say, “I’m an American, woman, man, __fill in noun/proper noun here___ , I have rights you know!” I myself have been guilty of this type of thing in the past. The truth is that anything we put before us that we strive after that potentially replaces God or the glory of God is perishing. They are rewards we strive after in this world and they will only ever be of this world. We end up being materialistic hoarders whether we admit it or not.

Mark 10:44-45 ~ “And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

In reality we should admit that having done a deed or service for others for the sheer joy of doing it is a much more “rewarding” reward than any materialistic possession. The same mentality applies to doing works for spiritual reward. Even then, we should be doing these things because of the nature of what we are…not expecting a return for service rendered. Our works gain us nothing in terms of the hereafter. God obviously did the work for salvation already. If the works are an outworking of the Spirit, we are on solid spiritual foundation. James told us as much.

James 2:26 ~ “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”

So why is it that I so often strive for my own reward now anyway even knowing it withers like a perennial flower or rots like fruit left to lay on the ground?


It is because I am a sinner even after being saved and the vestiges of sin are like stink on a freshly emptied garbage can. I will strongly debate those that say that there is no harm in working for a reward. Unless that reward is the self-sacrifice that comes with giving worship and glory to God…it is a reward sought for the wrong reasons. I must be brutally honest here: I rarely seek an end or justify an end with the idea that I solely want to bring glory to God or worship God by doing for others. There is nearly always a selfish motive involved. Whether most will wish to admit this is another story. I have to because of the walk God has me on now.

Romans 7:21-25 ~ “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

I have found that as I divest myself of the reward/entitlement mentality so I am no longer looking directly to people for what only God could truly give. What He gives is joy in service and that is the reward. Whether it is now joy that is starting to drive the service or the joy as a by-product of the service I have yet to determine. The stress is now off me to perform and appease. The burden has been given to God. 

I have taken on His yoke as fully as possible and it reality, it has dramatically lightened my spiritual and emotional load. I am not anxiety ridden over stupid nuances of work. I am not plagued with a bad conscience for honest mistakes in my relationships. I have turned this stuff over to God in His sovereignty to handle. In this way it has freed me up to pursue that thing that matters the most and thereby obey Jesus’ commands to me. I can now teach others (at least I am starting to). I do it through actual teaching and my manner of living.

By not seeking the accolades of men (Matthew 6:1-4), I need only please God. Because this has become fact, it has begun to strengthen my relationship with Him which has been weak in the past. People have asked me how the relationship improves with God outside of prayer, meditation and worship…well…I just explained it. I stopped being a people-pleaser and have become a God-pleaser. By doing this I am then aligned to the people I need to be aligned with (Christians). If I am truly in the will of God, I will be pleasing Christian people anyway because they, being Christians, should be aligned to God’s will also through the Holy Spirit.

It really does come down to whether or not you want to serve One Master, two masters or even three. The only One you should really be concerned about it Jesus Christ because He is the One Master. The two masters is The World or Jesus. The three masters are this world, ourselves and Jesus. At this point the spiritual walk gets quite crowded and God does not like company when it comes to being master over our lives. He is the only sovereign in this universe (or any other for that matter).

By seeking to please others we are looking for something for ourselves in people anyway…it is called approval. In this way we are being man-pleasers times two (2x). We get the approval of another human and in so doing we get what we want which acts as a perishing earthly worldly reward. In this way there is no reward, even though here and now it looks like we have benefited. In pleasing others or seeking our own reward we ignore God and we end up losing, not winning. It’s like getting a shiny gold ingot only to find out it is a spray painted piece of lead. In essence, it is a counterfeit.

We need to focus on pleasing God. Otherwise the world’s trash tiptoes its way into our lives and contaminates everything. We need to take hold of the things that would do this and cast them out of our lives. They are like illegal squatters on the land of our minds. Instead of these squatters coming in to mine gold, they actually do quite the opposite. They attempt to mine or dig damaging holes in our lives only to drop in their godless fool’s gold and garbage. In this way they take the space that should’ve been reserved for the true gold of God’s wisdom and His holy will given to us by the Holy Spirit.

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