Posts Tagged “reward”

How to Serve God by Serving Others

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

(Since 3 John does not have 3 chapters, this “3:16” isn't an actual 3:16.)

5Dear friend, you are showing your faith by whatever you do for the brothers, and this you are doing for strangers;

3 John 5 (HCSB)

The book of 3 John is a letter written from John to Gaius, a believer who was doing good things. A group of believers, led by Demetrius, was visiting in his area, and John wrote this letter to commend Gaius on how he was helping them. Helping other people, especially those you don't know and those doing God's work, is a recurring theme throughout the Bible.

When Jesus was sending out His disciples, He proclaimed a blessing for those who would welcome then and support them.

40“The one who welcomes you welcomes Me, and the one who welcomes Me welcomes Him who sent Me. 41Anyone who welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet's reward. And anyone who welcomes a righteous person because he's righteous will receive a righteous person's reward. 42And whoever gives just a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple - I assure you: He will never lose his reward!”

Matthew 10:40-42 (HCSB)

Just a cup of water! That's not hard at all, yet Jesus said that it will be rewarded. In Hebrews 13, the author encourages hospitality.

1Let brotherly love continue. 2Don't neglect to show hospitality, for by doing this some have welcomed angels as guests without knowing it.

Hebrews 13:1-2 (HCSB)

Would you give an angel a hand if you could? By helping others and being hospitable, you may actually have the ability to help an angel! And, even if you never come into contact with one (and I'm not really sure how you would know even if you did), by being hospitable to others, you can do the work of an angel for them.

Finally, let's look at an Old Testament example of hospitality.

8Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9“Get up, go to Zarephath that belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Look, I have commanded a woman who is a widow to provide for you there.” 10So Elijah got up and went to Zarephath. When he arrived at the city gate, there was a widow woman gathering wood. Elijah called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup and let me drink.” 11As she went to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.”

12But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I don't have anything baked - only a handful of flour in the jar and a bit of oil in the jug. Just now, I am gathering a couple of sticks in order to go prepare it for myself and my son so we can eat it and die.”

13Then Elijah said to her, “Don't be afraid; go and do as you have said. Only make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me. Afterwards, you may make some for yourself and your son, 14for this is what the Lord God of Israel says: 'The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the surface of the land.'”

15So she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah. She and he and her household ate for many days. 16The flour jar did not become empty, and the oil jug did not run dry, according to the word of the Lord He had spoken through Elijah.

1 Kings 17:8-16 (HCSB)

This kind lady was willing to give up nearly all the food she had in her house to help Elijah; yet, her kindness was rewarded by God's provision over many, many days. And, in the remainder of this chapter, 1 Kings 17:17-24, her son dies, but is then raised by God through Elijah! That's quite a reward, just for the simple act of giving up a little food.

“Random acts of kindness” is the idea that you do something nice for someone else, with the hope that someone else will do something nice for you. Mysticism has the idea of “karma,” where the things you do (for good or bad) determine how the rest of the world treats you. Neither of these come from the Bible - we should do nice things for other people “just because,” not to get a reward; and blessings from doing good come from God, not some nebulous “spiritual balance” that we can manipulate.

However, the prevalence of this theme, both in the Bible and outside It, show us that God blesses those who bless others in His name. Look for opportunities to bless others - you never know who you may be helping!

How to Close a Letter

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

(Since there aren't 3 chapters in Jude, this “3:16” isn't actually a 3:16.)

24Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, 25to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now, and forever. Amen.

Jude 24-25 (HCSB)

This is my favorite benediction in the entire Bible. It's a blessing to the church to whom Jude had written, but in the process, Jude writes a great summary of the power of God.

The entire book of Jude is not very large - only one chapter of 25 verses. In it, though, Jude was addressing the apostasy (a total desertion of belief) of some people who had come into the church. In verse 3, he encourages them to “contend for the faith,” because people were trying to destroy it.

In this context, verse 24 begins by telling them that Jesus can “protect you from stumbling…” This was an encouragement that this church needed. It is often difficult to resist people, especially when they have fervor and passion on their side. Jude reminds these church members that they are not alone, and that the Lord can keep them from falling into the seduction of sin.

He then continues “...and to make you stand in the presence of His glory…” This was the reward for which they were working, and Jude reaffirms to them that they will receive it. Many times, we do not see the destination when we begin our journey; but, if we persevere, we will get there. This also let the church know that if they did not abandon Jesus, He would not abandon them - they would stand in His presence!

Jude ends that verse with “...blameless and with great joy…” When they arrive in Jesus' presence, they would be “blameless,” even though they may not have been perfect here on earth. What a transformation! And Jude isn't making this up himself; Paul told the Corinthian church the same thing.

8He will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:8 (HCSB)

If we're preserved blameless, and are in the presence of God, no wonder there's great joy!

In verse 25, Jude leaves no doubt as to the identity of the One the church should follow - “The only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord…” Some of the people who had come to destroy the church were trying to get them to follow other gods, but Jude reminds them that they serve the one true God. He continues with “glory, majesty, power, and authority,” which speaks to the totality of God's being, and His control over them. Finally, “before all time, now, and forever” refers to God's eternity and infinity - He was, is, and is to come.

These days, we'll usually just end our letters with “Love” or “Sincerely.” But what an encouragement this must have been to the church! Not only did it bless them personally, it reminded them of Who and why they were serving, and what the fruits of their labor would be. I pray that you will also be encouraged from these words today.