by Tim Hall
There was a time, not many years ago, when I thought, “I can’t wait to get rid of these credit cards!” Now I have the ability to shred every one that has been issued in my name. But I haven’t destroyed them. I want to use them.
The change of view is because of rewards. For every dollar I charge to my account I will earn some type of reward. Some credit cards give a monetary rebate. Others award air miles, enabling one to take a trip some day in the future. Still others offer gifts of various kinds. Once we all despised credit cards, knowing the potential jeopardy to which they exposed us. What a difference rewards make!
God calls us to live a life of holiness. That’s quite a request. James acknowledges the difficulty we typically face in resisting temptation:
“But every one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14,15, NKJV).
We sin because of our desires, he stated. We want the pleasure that sin temporarily brings. Why, then, would anyone resist what their bodily appetites urge them to do?
Rewards. Before man discovered the motivating power of rewards, God spoke of them. Those who choose his will over their own are promised amazing rewards.
There are scores of promises recorded in the New Testament, each of them an incentive to walk in God’s pathway. Jesus summed them all up in Mark 10:29,30.
Those who will leave all “… for my sake and the gospel’s, [will] 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.”
Has any credit card ever developed a rewards program approaching that? Great and gracious gifts await those who follow the Lord!
Even when the challenges before us are extreme, the reward beckons us. To the church at Smyrna – a church that would be severely tested by persecutions – Jesus pointed to the ultimate incentive:
“Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
Instead of saying simply “life,” Jesus spoke of “the crown of life.” The image is likely that of the laurel wreath awarded to athletic and military champions. It signified to all that they had prevailed in their contests; they now were to be honored by all. Upon our heads Jesus will one day place a crown of life if we remain faithful, even to the point of giving up our lives for him.
Is Christianity a life of sacrifice? Only if one values the things of the world more than the things of God.
We often do things for the hope of a reward.