Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Strong in Grace: Rewards?

So you, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.       2 Timothy 2:1 MEV


   We've begun a new series studying on becoming strong in the Grace of God. Many are strong in various things. Strong in intellectual knowledge. Strong in ambitious desire to succeed in their career. I want to share how to become stronger in the Grace of God. 

 When we speak of Grace, sometimes we find a portion of our thinking resisting the complete truth of Grace. Why? Because living in this world conditions us to want to play a part. To earn our way if you will. 

 The early 1980s musical film Annie adapted from the comic strip, perfectly illustrates how many believers respond to God's Grace. When the orphan girl comes to stay at the billionaire's home, the first thing she does is grab a bucket and scrub brush to beginning scrubbing walls. The staff all looked at her perplexed and tell her she is a guest there. Her response was how will I earn my keep?

 Isn't that how we often respond to Father's Love and Grace? All of the splendor of Heaven has been given to us to enjoy and we grab a proverbial mop bucket and begin scrubbing floors. Instead of enjoying the riches and joy of the Father's house, we look to earn our place there. A place we could never earn, to begin with.

 Let's look then at rewards under Grace. What I am not endeavoring to do is discuss or debate about eternal rewards in Heaven. I personally understand based on Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 3, there is some form of eternal rewards, but nothing that would allow us to take credit for and become boastful about. 

 I am speaking of rewards for our doings now. The idea that the blessing and favor and goodness of God are predicated on our own goodness and works and deeds. I used the illustration of the film because the orphan was invited to dwell with a wealthy person. The invite was his estate's idea not the orphan's. The invite then wasn't extended because of the personal works and deeds of the orphan but the goodness of the wealthy person's estate.

 Some classify the blessing of God as a reward for service. They classify healing as a reward for works. They classify favor as a reward for doing good. The real question then becomes in order to receive all these things how much works do I need to do? How do I know when I've done enough? How do I know if I've done these works right? 

 Imagine a father who only gave his son a treat when he did something good. All the child would believe is that his father cares for him more when he does good and when he doesn't his father is sore displeased and disappointed in him and angry at him. So he works harder and harder to win the approval of his father. Eventually, he will burn out trying to earn his father's love and favor. 

 What if the father often blessed his son with a piece of candy after dinner? What if he loved him and blessed sometimes in spite of his faults and failures? I am not advocating rewarding bad behavior if you will, but I am speaking of unmerited favor and blessing. When the child sees the love and acceptance of their father despite their failure they will want to return their father's goodness with goodness of their own.

 The blessing and favor and mercy of God is rooted in God's goodness, not our own goodness. He blesses and favors us because He is good all the time not because we are. His goodness and healing and favor are extended to us because He perfectly purchased them in His redemptive work. All we need to do is simply believe.

 Healing for our bodies, favor in all areas of our life aren't rewards for services rendered. We aren't in some business transaction with God. He is our good Father, not our employer. 

 Maybe someone would ask, are you saying God will bless and favor us even when we sinned or messed up? That He will heal us even when the sickness or disease is the result of our own doing? Allow me to clarify, yes I am saying this.

 God is not given a stamp of approval of our sins or wrong choices. That's not what the Favor and blessing of God are. God's favor is ours because of Jesus, not ourselves. If we are abstaining from wrong choices and sin only to ensure we are getting a blessing, then that's transactional relating to God and not living in a relationship with our Father. 

 The blessing of God, the Favor of God, His goodness are ours because of the Finished Work. Because He became something He never was so we could become something we've never been. He became sin so we could become accepted, approved, and in right standing with God. We receive from God because of our righteousness in Christ, not our own goodness. 

 In summation, God's goodness and blessing isn't some reward system. He blesses us because of Jesus, not our works. Because He is so good to us, inwardly we begin to desire to abstain from wrong thinking and choices. Growing strong in Grace is receiving what He did for us with joy and resting in it.

Image by Агзам Гайсин from Pixabay 

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