“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
- Matthew 6:2-4
If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
- 1 Corinthians 3:12-15
For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
- 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
- 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
- Revelation 2:10
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.
- 1 Peter 5:2-4
“When we first come to know Christ and enter this new kingdom realm, it is just the beginning of the race marked out for us. At the end of the race, there will be a test as to whether there was any value in what we did on earth. Our motives will be tested, our hearts will be sifted, and our deeds will be judged. If we are saved but do nothing within the kingdom and live according to our flesh until we die, we will not lose our salvation. We will enter heaven, but we will lose our reward. But if there is value to what we did on earth, then we will receive the lasting reward of a crown.
“I often think of this in regard to the awards and accolades we receive while on earth. They’ll amount to nothing on the other side of eternity, so I want to make sure that what I ultimately accomplish on earth lasts forever. I want to achieve a reward that never fades away.
“Again, this is the upside-down kingdom way of thinking that is so counter to our flesh. We want the awards and the fame now, but God tells us not to store up treasures here, where moth and rust will destroy them. He instructs us instead to store up treasures in heaven where they will not fade away. You may not get a physical award this side of eternity, but you will receive a crown that you will be able to place at the feet of Jesus in heaven. What an honor it will be to lay our crowns before Him. When we see Jesus face-to-face, we’ll know even more that He is the only one truly worthy of all honor and worship. I imagine we’ll lay prostrate before Him, our crowns clinking together as they hit the ground in surrender..
“Your final challenge is this: Make a commitment to live every day with the opposite life in mind. When you face an issue that may cause you to react negatively, ask yourself, ‘What would Jesus do?’
“Be quick to obey what He says, and if you do this consistently, I can promise that you will discover the mystery of living with power and abundance and rewards beyond anything you could ever hope or imagine!”
- Alex Seeley, The Opposite Life
I had three thoughts while preparing this bit of writing.
First, when I was a Cubmaster in Cub Scouts, basically the emcee of the monthly Pack meetings, it was my job to let the boys show what they had learned over the previous month, and I kept the energy up. As I liked to think of it, I got a bunch of 6–10-year-old boys all wound up and then handed them back to their parents to worry about unwinding them for bed.
But my focus was always what the boys had achieved. I wanted to present them with badges. Again, something that someone in the family would have to sow onto their uniform, but even that was important. The boy had earned it.
Whenever possible, we had a photographer from the local newspaper come by to photograph the boys receiving their rewards. A mother of a boy in my wife’s den was a romance novelist. At present, she has published over 160 novels, but this was nearly forty years ago. She volunteered to write the article for the local newspaper, but the newspaper always placed their own captions for the photographs. In every case, the newspaper would say something about how the boy was awarded recognition, while the novelist’s article would talk about how the badge was not simply awarded, but the boy had worked very hard to achieve the requirements.
To me, there was a important distinction in the two concepts. The newspaper’s response when I complained was, “Do you want your photos in the paper or not?” Truth and accuracy in reporting has not been important in a long time.
And when subjectivity enters the “awards” business, the award often goes to the one who is most popular or the “poster child” for the latest secular hot button. Earning it and deserving it seem to not matter, the award is simply awarded.
Second, as for those rewards and awards that you receive from your favorite game on your phone or tablet? Can the rewards be used anywhere other than in the game? Those rewards are feeding on the addictive element of the game. Put the phone down and walk away.
Third, in my writing on this blogsite, I suppose that I am not alone in that I look at the daily, monthly, and yearly data, those views, visitors, likes, and comments.
If I had a board of directors reviewing my progress, they would want to see a steady climb in the “measurables.” But at present, the numbers are flattening out. My best months are all in late 2020 and early 2021. And in thinking of those months, I would not wish to relive them.
But in this opposite life, or upside-down world, when you go onto the reader page (for those who are bloggers) and you never visit the site, I never knew you were there unless you “like” something or leave a comment. And for all who read things on this site without ever registering with WordPress, you are unable to “like” or “comment,” and I never know you are there.
On rare occasions, I have a conversation with God. I lament that the numbers have been off for a little while. And I hear a resounding response, “Are those the people you are writing to?”
Do not get me wrong. I love the “likes” and I especially love the “comments,” but if this is read by someone who needed encouragement today and simply a laugh, God knows that what I wrote helped them. I might want to know, but do I need to know when I am doing this for His Glory?
I had a dream quite some time ago, and the dream could be true of any Christian plodder, that person that keeps putting one foot in front of the other even when you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the dream, I came through the pearly gates into Heaven, tired and exhausted. I asked if I had made any impact for the kingdom of Heaven. Any impact at all? It seemed all that I could do was to keep plodding along. Whether my guide in Heaven was Jesus or St. Peter or an angel, they said nothing, but they guided me to a closed door and asked me to open it. When I went through the door, I found myself in a large banquet hall. Hundreds upon hundreds of people came up to me and told me about how a kindness had affected them or a word of encouragement. Jesus had done the saving. I had not “closed the deal” for any of them as far as I knew, but I had helped them along the way.
This dream was not just for me. It may not be for me at all. But each of us who keeps his or her eyes on Jesus and loves his neighbor may have impacts on countless people throughout their lives. But even then, the hero and focus of each of those gatherings in Heaven (if they really exist in that context) will be the One who did the saving, Jesus Himself.
Lord, guide me. Help me to make a difference in the lives of others in a positive way for Your kingdom. It is all about You. You are the Savior. We deserve nothing, but You give us a crown anyway. In Thy Name I pray. Amen
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.