The study for this week has focused on the reality of rewards for servants of the living God. Many of the truths presented this week came from the Gospel of Matthew. The primary theme of the Gospel of Matthew is the Kingdom of Heaven. Matthew’s argument is that Jesus ushered in the Kingdom of Heaven through his death, burial, and resurrection and those who follow him are Kingdom citizens in the present age as well as the age to come. He includes many of Jesus’ teachings about the Kingdom and explains what it is like to live in the Kingdom. It is in this context where he mentions rewards so strongly. These rewards are given out to Kingdom citizens who live well as citizens. You might think of them as citizenship awards. Jesus taught frequently that life in the Kingdom is valuable. It is a Kingdom where men are forgiven. It is Kingdom where the king makes every provision. However, it is also a Kingdom where citizens are defined by their faith and identified by their behavior. To be a citizen of this Kingdom is a prize to be most sought after by men. The cost of citizenship is nothing short of total surrender to the will of Jesus. It is the value of citizenship that makes that surrender worthwhile. Jesus uses two stories to bring a greater understanding of this truth.
First, Jesus compared the value found in the Kingdom to a treasure hidden in a field. When a man seeking treasure discovered treasure hidden in a field, he did whatever was necessary to gain that treasure. In this case, he sold all that he had in order to gain the treasure. A key element of this story is the joy of the treasure-seeker when he found the hidden treasure.
Next, Jesus compared the one who sees the value of the Kingdom to a merchant seeking pearls to sell in his mercantile. This seeking merchant found a pearl with much value. Evidently, this merchant could buy the pearl for less than its retail value, take it to his store and make a handsome profit. The response was to sell everything he had in order to be able to buy the pearl. The Kingdom of Heaven is of great value. In order to receive the reward of heaven, one must give everything he owns. It must all be given to Jesus who is the gatekeeper to the Kingdom of Heaven. Interestingly enough, Jesus often turns the assets of the one who gives his life to Jesus into assets entrusted to that servant. When a man who has a great ability surrenders his life to Jesus, Jesus takes possession of the asset. The man is often then entrusted to serve as the steward of that asset for gain in the Kingdom of heaven. It is now to be used in God’s economy.
How do these two stories relate to rewards given by the Master? Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven serve the Master. If you desire to hear the words of affirmation from the King of the Kingdom, you must be a citizen of the Kingdom. Citizenship is gained by surrender to the will of the Master and rewards are given to the one who lives according to that surrender. Using all the resources entrusted by the Master results in rewards from the Master. The rewards are greater than any earthly reward offered by the ruler of this world, Satan. Missionary Jim Elliot captured the thought succinctly, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Again thinking about the list of resources previously identified, are there any items on the list that you need to surrender to the Lord for his use? Surrender is the key to reward; however, when surrender is the action the reward is spiritual rather than material. The greatest reward is a relationship with Christ. Out of that relationship grows the servant heart and attitude that finally reaches the reward, “Well done, good and faithful servant.