Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The prize is not in the bottom of the box!

How often do we talk about the rewards of Christianity as coming later? You know what I mean. We get to go to heaven when we die; Jesus is preparing a place for us; we get some jewels in our's all later. 

It can drive a person those toys at the bottom of a box of cereal. I never could handle that. Call me a product of the instant gratification generation, but I would dig down with my little 7-year old grubby hands and grab that toy before my brother or sister could get there. I wanted the prize and I wanted it now. 

Christianity is presented like a box of cereal most of the time. You're supposed to eat all the cereal first, you're supposed to live your life first, and then you get the reward. 

There is some truth there. I want to think for a bit about Jesus' sermon on the mount. He talks bout a couple of spiritual disciplines: giving to the needy and prayer. There are two important facets of our life that Jesus is talking about: money and time. These are things that we can be very stingy with. Let's look specifically at money today (we covered prayer a couple weeks ago):

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 6:3-4
#1. Notice that Jesus says "when" not "if" you give. It's so easy to justify not giving back to God. Money is tight and no one seems to have enough of it. "I'll give next week...I just can't this time."  

#2. Jesus says not to make a show about it. This is between you and God. When others know about it, you've received your reward in full (see verses 1 & 2). Check your motives.

Why? Why do we give and why do we do it secretly? This isn't an issue about money. It's an issue of faith, your faith and confidence in God - that He sees you, knows you, and notices you. If we really believed this, there would be no anxiety about money. You would be excited to give!

We trust God fully with our eternity...we have no control over that. Once we breathe our last we lose control of everything. We trust God for our eternity. What Jesus wants is for us to live life with that kind of 100%, hold nothing back trust in Him now. 

So, when you give (even if it is cheerlessly) the potential for God to grow your faith is wide open! 

What's the reward? Not that you'll be able to pay your bills. Not that you'll have a bigger house, a nicer car, or anything like that. Here's the reward: God will be there. When we place our faith, our trust, our prayers, our money, our very lives into the hands of the One who holds all things in His, He rewards it. 

God will be there. That's the reward. And you don't have to dig to the bottom of the box!

Note: This is part six of a seven part series written as a follow-up to C.C.C.'s In The Shadow of the Cross sermon series. We're looking at what life looks like on this side of the cross. How should we live our lives in the afterglow of the resurrection. You can see the previous posts of this series here. 

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