Jesus & {Your?} His Money: Part 5 - Money and Heavenly Reward

September 22, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement | Tags: giving, money, sanctification, Randy Alcorn, rewards

This is the fifth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward the use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money.

In Reformed circles we don’t like to talk much about rewards in the Christian life. The word “reward” conjures up ideas of merit and works and seems to be the opposite of grace. And yet, the Gospels are saturated with Jesus speaking about reward. Here’s a sampling:

Commanded to lay up treasure in heaven (i.e. reward): Matthew 6:20, “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…”

Commanded to sell possession to have treasure in heaven (i.e. reward): Matthew 19:21, “sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

Promise of reward in heaven for sacrifice: Matthew 19:29, “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.”

Reward is secured by kind acts: Matthew 10:42, “whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward."

Promise of repayment on the last day for kind acts: Luke 14:14, “For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."

So, how does a message of grace, totally unmerited and freely given by God, correlate with reward, especially as it applies to money? Let’s look at Jesus’ words regarding grace and reward.

1. Only by God’s Grace will Anyone’s Heart be Free from the Love of Money or Any Idolatry. This is how Jesus responded to the rich, young ruler in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” According to Jesus, no one can give themselves a heart transplant. This is only a work of grace.

2. Only by God’s Grace will Anyone Find God to be Their Greatest Treasure. Closely connected to a new heart with new desires is our acceptance by God (regeneration…justification). In our acceptance by God we find God to be our greatest treasure; nothing compares with what God gives us in Christ. This is implied in Jesus’ parable of the Pharisee and tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. He finished by saying (with my expository amplification), “This man [the tax collector] went down to his house justified [accepted by God], rather than the other [the Pharisee]. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but everyone who humbles himself [hear the emphasis on grace] will be exalted [delight in the treasure of God himself!].”

3. Only by God’s Grace will Anyone Have a New Attitude Toward Money. In the parable of the rich fool in Luke 12:13-21, Jesus condemns those whose hearts have not found God to be their treasure. Hear this in verse 21: “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” Those who are not rich toward God (see #1 and #2 above) treasure money for themselves. The opposite is implied, those who are rich toward God have a new attitude toward money. Those who are rich toward God will be generous with their money. This generosity is not works or merit or anything anyone can boast in. This generosity is a work of grace of making one rich toward God.

4. Only by God’s Grace are Heavenly Rewards Promised and Secured. When Jesus says in Luke 18:29-30, “no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life,” he is promising reward for generosity and sacrifice. But that generosity and sacrifice is not the product of our efforts. It is the work of God’s grace in our hearts and lives (see #s 1-3 above). By promising reward, Jesus does not contradict or undermine the work of grace.

5. The Promise of Reward is Part of God’s Grace to Sanctify Us. We could ask, “why does Jesus speak of reward then?” Jesus understands that the process of sanctification, the process of becoming more holy, is a process of renewing the heart. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34). The human heart is beheld by treasure. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). The promise of reward highlights the treasure that God is above everything else.

May we become more and more rich toward God by his grace!

More next week about generosity.



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