[This article was taken from our book The Christian’s Hope: The Anchor of the Soul.]
There are many Christians who have never been taught about rewards in the future Kingdom, but who do the will of God for other reasons. Some are so convinced of God’s love that they are filled with thanksgiving and are motivated to love and obey God. Others obey God because they are convinced “it is the right thing to do” or “just because He is God” or “because they will be more blessed if they obey.” To these people, it seems more pure-hearted to obey God because of love rather than to obey in order to receive rewards in the Kingdom. Certainly love, thankfulness, duty, and being blessed are noble motives, and they are valid reasons to obey Him. Christians should love and obey God because He is God and because of all the loving things He has done for them. People are more blessed in this life if they obey God. But one of the goals of this book is to help people see that God does promise rewards to those who obey Him, and those rewards are designed to be a major motivation for godly living.
It also needs to be stated that the things Christians do need to be done in love. It is possible to act out the requirements of the Word without any love in the heart at all. The Pharisees did that quite often. Scripture teaches that people only benefit from their actions when they are done with love (1 Cor. 13:3). It is important to understand, however, that the love of God is not just a “warm fuzzy feeling.” It is accompanied by godly action. In fact, a loving action sometimes is accompanied by no actual desire at all, other than the desire to do God’s will and bless people. Christ showed supreme love when he went to the cross, even though he had asked his Father repeatedly to take it from him. [For further study read Four Kinds of Love.]
People usually appreciate it when they are treated with love and kindness. So too, God is appreciative of Christians who express their love for Him through obedience in their daily walk. But Christians cannot ignore the words in the Word. God made the rules and set up the entire system of rewards. Working to receive rewards in the future is not wrong—it is part of obeying God. Rewards in Paradise are designed to be part of the Hope that anchors the Christian’s soul.
Knowledge of rewards keeps Christians from being blown outside the will of God by the storms of life or from drifting away from Him, lured by the attractions of the world. It would be nice if love for God kept Christians firmly on course all the time, but experience tells us that the realization of the consequences of disobeying God is often what it takes to help make decisions to stay holy and obedient.
While it is wonderful to obey God simply out of love for Him, it is not wrong to see the value in obeying Him to obtain a reward. God did not have to mention rewards in the Kingdom, but He did. The fact that He speaks of rewards in verse after verse should speak loudly to those who are wise. God wants to reward every believer richly, but He is just, so He will pass out rewards that have been earned. It is up to each Christian to be wise in his walk and obey our heavenly Father. Christians can be assured that obedience will be very much “worth it” in the end.