Reward Deferred

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Ever heard of the phrase, “Pay now and Play later“?

Dave Ramsey (and others) have made that phrase popular in the last decade. Dave has done a great job teaching people how to get out of  debt, and he’s done a great job of helping so many people find financial freedom.

That phrase is curious to me though. What would encourage someone to defer a present reward? To delay or postpone instant gratification?  That’s hard!

It may be for the same reason that:

  • someone would make the right decision even when the wrong decision was much easier.
  • someone would work hard to pay off a debt in order to be able to enjoy financial freedom in the future.
  •  a missionary committed to caring for others on the other side of the world would leave all that is familiar.
  • someone would give money to a church, a charity, a homeless person.
  • someone would honor their own body, their future spouse, and save themselves until marriage.

They all have a hope of a future reward and have experienced a much deeper sense of gratification for having done the right thing – future gratification must outweigh the instant gratification.

This truth is made clear in the scriptures as Jesus addresses this very issue:

Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

“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 6:1-4

secretdonation

So, how can we secretly invest in the Kingdom of God now…while we still have breath?

A few years ago, a small group from my church set out to explore the needs of a mobile home community close to the church. They were going to spend several days helping that community and wanted to create a list of needs so that they could assemble teams to help meet those needs.

This small group came to the first mobile home to assess the needs. The tenants said that “the pastor and his wife had already been by and took care of all their needs”.  They went to the second, and third, and fourth……and the stories were the same at every door.  They were left with hardly anything to do for that entire community.

What is so refreshing is that there was no message about ministering to the poor in our community the following Sundays.  There was no trumpet sounded in staff meetings to show how Christian leaders should lead (I know, I was on his staff for 6 1/2 years).  There was no “illustration” to give himself humble credit and to share with the masses how you are to act as a Christian.

There was no need to tell everyone because this pastor and his wife believe in what Jesus said in Matthew 6.  They want the greater reward.  The one that does not come in this life.

Yes, this pastor’s church found out pretty quickly what he and his wife had done in secret, to no fault of their own.

Can you imagine how energized that small group became after hearing story after story of God’s faithfulness in that mobile home park?  And, all the others who were in the wake of that story, even today? I would say that the impact was FAR greater because they gave in secret rather than if they would have made it part of the sermon series to communicate a point.

And, that’s the point.

Let God make it a big thing.  He promises the greater reward.

His future reward will always outshine the stuff of earth that is temporary in nature, often twisted, and never satisfying. After all, Jesus could have been the promised king here on earth.  Instead, he took the cross upon himself and became the king of kings who is without end.  Reward deferred.

In our context as orphan advocates, whatever we choose to give up this side of heaven, to help those in greatest need….well, I think we’d all agree that they are worth it. Not to mention, His reward system is so much better than ours anyway.

Something to consider,

Steve Gillis
Founder, Exec. Director
www.patchourplanet.org
 
Question: What kind of impact could we have if we all became secret givers, unafraid of rewards deferred?
 
 
 
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