October 9, 2019 –
In Philippians, St. Paul writes, “I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14, HCSB). Paul lived a lifestyle he knew would reward him with a home in heaven and a forever presence with Christ Jesus. The Apostle also informed the believers in Corinth, “Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize.” (1 Cor. 9:24, HCSB)
Believers know God has a reward awaiting us in heaven, and we look forward to the completion of our race. And, we believe and expect rewards for service in this present life.
In this matter of rewards, we must not overlook what may not be so obvious. Sometimes we must move past the obvious—rewards are excellent, even significant— to a deeper, more spiritual understanding. God challenges his followers to think about what we believe and our role in His plan.
In the Old Testament, the story is told of Jacob and his wrestling with God* and prevailing. He refused to let go of God until God blessed (rewarded) him. God blessed the 97-year-old Jacob. He changed his name from Jacob to Israel, for he had striven with God.
Through his perseverance (hanging on), Jacob’s received the blessing, but the Bible says that as the sun rose, Jacob crossed over Peniel, and he was limping on his thigh. God rewarded Jacob, but Jacob paid the price. The socket of Jacob’s thigh was dislocated in his encounter with God, and Jacob most likely limped for the rest of his life.
Compare this Old Testaments story of Jacob’s wrestling with God and his dislocated hip with Paul’s words the New Testament in 2 Corinthians. “I was given a thorn in my flesh a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Everyone likes a reward—we want to sit at the king’s table—but few will work in the fields. We like to travel the Jericho road, just Jesus and you. But on every Jericho Road, there’s a person in need, and God looks for good Samaritans to reward. God desires to reward us in the present with more service opportunities.
There are spiritual rewards, and they come with a price tag.