Reward and Punishment- Part II

In part one of this article I said that we sometimes don’t recognize the full implications of the punishments or rewards that come our way when choosing to obey or disobey God’s commands. In this regard I mentioned the many rewards that await one who actively pursues sexual purity.

Another reward that is seldom understood is that which results from generous giving or liberality. We are familiar with the destructive power of greed and the many warnings against worldliness, but the reward for those that give generously is not simply that they make God happy. The personal benefit of giving generously is that the givers protect themselves against being possessed by their possessions. A sure sign that you are being possessed by your things is if you spend more money on your “toys” (whatever those may be) than you give to the Lord.

Another benefit for the liberal giver is that he becomes like God in his giving because generosity is part of God’s nature. It is proof that the Spirit of Christ dwells richly in him and this evidence creates joy in one’s soul. This is the practical reason why it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Finally, there is the matter of church attendance. I believe this issue is most often seen in terms of a reward/punishment framework,”I go to church, I've done the right thing. I don't go, I'm not a good Christian and may even lose my soul.” This type of myopic thinking leads to a legalistic attitude that produces resentment, the very opposite of what worship is supposed to create in the heart of the believer. I say resentment because the one who “has” to attend worship comes with the wrong attitude to begin with and leaves with nothing more than the satisfaction that he has denied himself other things (sleep, play, etc.) in order to do the right thing.

This type of exchange naturally breeds resentment in the long run because continually doing one’s duty is never a substitute for doing one’s natural desire.

We should attend worship regularly because we love God, and the method necessary to cultivate our love for God is to practice loving God’s people. God dwells in people through His Holy Spirit (Acts2:38), and I desire to be with and before God in worship often because I love Him and love being with His people often. Those who don't attend church regularly are usually those who don't have many loving relationships with the people in the church. The true reward for regular church attendance is our growth in the knowledge of our God and the joy that Christian fellowship produces. Things that are motivated by love not the fear of punishment.

As a Christian I only have rewards to look forward to in the future because the punishment for my sins has been paid for by Jesus Christ once and for all on the cross.

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