If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15
Negatively, some Christians will be grieved by the lack of reward given to them for the life they lived. The Bible is clear that there are eternal consequences for believers doing both good and evil.55 The idea of different levels of rewards upsets many. They feel offended that Jesus doesn’t give everyone a gold star, as if everyone should automatically get an A on their report card, but to do so would be unjust and would encourage Christians to waste their lives.
Those who love Jesus will strive to be like Him. Because we are God’s workmanship, created for good works, we should do them.56 We should “make every effort” to be faithful to our calling, as the Bible often exhorts.57
We are children of God with the full right of inheritance. Participation in the Kingdom is already ours, not because of the good we have done, but because of God’s gracious inclusion of us in His Kingdom. However, having been so lavishly graced, we should respond by being trustworthy. Part of the reason God sanctifies us throughout life after we are born again is to help prepare us for the Kingdom we are to live in forever. Bit by bit, we learn and grow in faithfulness with the small kingdom works He has entrusted to us. We know that God is a Father whose love for and devotion to His children is purely by grace and will never change. Still, as a good Father, He also gives chores and responsibilities to each of His children to help them mature and grow so that He can entrust to them increasingly important things; He rewards the children who are faithful in ways that He does not reward the children who are unfaithful.
What do these rewards look like, and what do they involve? Because the biblical descriptions of rewards (e.g., money, crowns) are likely figurative, it is hard to be sure what is meant. Most importantly, rewards are greater opportunity and responsibility in the Kingdom.58 We will be able to fulfill our original purpose to rule God’s creation in partnership with Him.59 Paul hints that a reward will be seeing the full impact we have had on other people. Perhaps our deepened relations with them will be a reward.60 For all believers, a rich reward will be our capacity to know and experience God Himself, to see Jesus face-to-face.61 Whatever the reward, the important idea is that life matters and God is watching.
Who can you encourage today for serving the cause of Jesus Christ faithfully?
55 2 Cor. 5:10.
56 Eph. 2:10.
57 Luke 13:24; Rom. 14:19; Eph. 4:3; Heb. 4:11, 12:14; 2 Pet. 1:5–10, 3:14.
58 Luke 16:10–12, 19:17–19.
59 Gen. 1:26–28.
60 2 Cor. 1:14; 1 Thess. 2:19–20.
61 1 Cor. 13:12; 1 John 3:2.