The verse that stood out to me today was 2 John 1:8, Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you be rewarded fully. Being rewarded fully does not mean salvation, it means being rewarded for loyal service to God. We can only receive salvation once and it is for eternity through grace because of Christ’s sacrifice. But when we have a relationship with God and want to serve Him in all we do, He will reward us for that loyal service.
I love 2 Timothy 4:7-8, 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. My hope is when I reach the end of my life I can say the same thing.
Anything that has value also has a struggle attached to it. Paul gives some examples in 2 Timothy 2:4-6 4 No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. 6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Just like soldiers, we must be disciplined to complete the tasks that are set before us by those who lead us. Athletes must follow the rules and work hard in preparation or they won’t deserve the victors crown. And a farmer works hard for months at a time to reach the time of harvest and receive his reward for toiling over his crops. In the end, no reward comes to anyone who is unwilling to put in the work. There is a reason why most lottery winner end up worse than they were before winning, it’s because there is no effort and in turn there is no value. When we work hard to achieve our goals, we value the reward that much more.
Control over our minds and bodies is one of the hardest things we can do. To master the will of our subconscious can sometimes feel impossible. However, we do it because we want to be in control. 1 Corinthians 9:26-17 says, 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. Nothing we do should ever be done without meaning and purpose. God will bless us for our efforts. Training gives the athlete the ability to be compete in an event. The same goes for training our minds to look to God and Trust the Holy Spirit to lead us. It does not come naturally to us, so we must practice it each and every day.
We cannot imagine all that God ultimately has in store for us both in this life and in eternity. Paul says it best as he quotes from Isaiah 64:4 in 1 Corinthians 2:9-10a 9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him— 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The things of this world are not all there is. What God has in store for us in eternity is the best that is yet to come.
Doing the right thing never gets old. While the rewards may not always be seen right away, they are always built into the act of goodness. Galatians 6:9 says, Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. No matter what the outcome, we must never get tired of doing what is right and good to please God by serving others. Our reward may not be realized in this lifetime, but it will come.
Today we begin the book of Galatians. This book was written by Paul and is meant to refute teachings to the Galatian gentiles that they must follow Jewish law in order to be saved, calling all believers to faith and freedom in Christ. Galatians 1:10 says, Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. Paul would not have gone through all he had if he simply wanted to please men. Life was easier when Paul lived for the approval of Jewish leaders and did not have to face their persecution. When we seek God’s approval we must be prepared to face the disapproval of man. We see it today even in the way other believer sometimes disapprove of each other. Our obedience to Christ is not meant to be understood by anyone else but Him. Our reward comes from God and not by the approval of men.
In today’s reading in Psalm 132 I do not have a specific verse to share, just a simple thought. When we honor God He also honors us. Not because He has to, but because He wanted to all along.
In today’s reading, the verse that stood out to me was Ecclesiastes 8:14, There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: the righteous who get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless. How many times have each of us witnessed a righteous person receive what the wicked deserves. Yet, God’s plan is perfect and we must trust in Him to know what is right. In the end, whatever the situation, in the big picture and as an individual situation it means nothing. Our reward is not here.
At the end of our lives, no matter how great our accomplishments, we are all left to the same fate. I heard it once said this way, “None of us get out of this life alive.” In Ecclesiastes 2:15 Solomon says, Then I said to myself, “The fate of the fool will overtake me also. What then do I gain by being wise?” I said to myself, “This too is meaningless.” The only thing that matters in this life is the way we impact eternity and others. Everything else is fleeting and will matter very little once we are gone from this earth.