Let’s look at the Pavlov effect used in today’s advertising. If you put out the right treat we’ll ring the bell for it. So there is incentive and reward, except the incentive is geared to manipulate us into doing something that may or may not be best for us.
Psalm 69:5 “O God, you know my foolishness, and my sins are not hidden from you.” Truth is truth. In our own natural state, we cannot “earn” rewards from God, but we desperately need His mercy. And He will not deceive or manipulate us to make us return His love. What is put before us is forgiveness, which is freely given to the repentant heart through faith in the cross of Christ, then the offer of God-bestowed ability to earn favor in His sight.
Romans 5: 6; “For when we were yet without strength (ability to please God), Christ died for the ungodly.” The merit of the Mercy-Giver is impeccable. God loves us for no other reason than that He does, and sent Jesus to save us in spite of ourselves.
Now, being placed by grace into the family of God, we are told we can return His love by worshipful and willing obedience, thereby earning rewards. How do we do this? How can we achieve any merit to reward? Does it pay to live our lives exalting the Name of Jesus?
Romans 6:19: “Yield yourselves as servants to righteousness and holiness.” Righteousness just means living as God intended, rightly. Holiness is putting God first. As we co-operate with the new life God has implanted in us, a holy partnership is created, worthy of reward.
I Corinthians 3:8: “Now he that plants and he that waters are one, and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.”
God prepares joyous, holy, fruit-bearing lives for His children. As we co-operate with His plans, protected by His merciful grace, we earn rewards. And these will be awarded us in heaven by Jesus Himself. Genuine Christianity results in a life worth living here, and a heaven we’ll love there.
Next Time: He kept His word: my personal testimony.
(Christina Ferris of Somerset is part of Evangelical Christian Church Ministries, an organization committed to spreading the Gospel through the teaching and preaching of the Word of God. ECCM is an impartial group, caring only for the saving and nurturing of souls in Christ Jesus. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)