When is the last time you heard a sermon that suggested that a motive for our obedience should be the rewards we receive in heaven? I imagine for most of us it has been a long time, maybe even never. Whenever a sermon (or book) provides a motive for obedience, it is almost always thankfulness for what Christ has done. And certainly that is a wonderful and foundational motivation. But is it the only motivation?
Recently I’ve been working on a commentary on the book of Hebrews and was struck by the role rewards have played in the lives of God’s people. We are reminded that Moses was motivated by rewards, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Heb 11:26). Why did Abraham obey? We are told “He went to live in the land of promise…For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations” (Heb 11:9-10).
This same motivation is found throughout the New Testament writings. Jesus makes it clear, “Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven” (Luke 6:23). Paul states it plainly, “But each will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Cor 3:8).
Even Jesus himself was motivated by his future reward: “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb 12:2).
It seems that prior generations may have grasped this truth more clearly. Richard Baxter explains the various kinds of motivations for our obedience: [Read more…]