May 27, 2020 –
Jacob wrestled with God and prevailed. He refused to surrender until God blessed (rewarded) him. Because of his struggling, Jacob received the blessing of Abraham and Isaac; Jacob would be a father of many. In his blessing, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel because he had striven with God.
Through his perseverance, Jacob’s received the blessing, but the Bible says, “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 limped for the rest of his life.
In Philippians, 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. The Apostle also challenged 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 we have a heavenly reward awaiting us. And we look forward to the completion of our race. We also believe there are 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 lovely, even significant — to a deeper, more spiritual understanding. God challenges his followers to think deeply about what we believe and our role in His plan.
Compare this Old Testaments story of Jacob’s wrestling with God and his dislocated hip with Paul’s words 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.”
People want to sit at the king’s table, but few willingly 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 now with more service opportunities.