As Christians, we know that we are not saved by good deeds. Then, does God reward our good works?
Rev. Liang Zhiyong from a house church of Henan answers the question on his WeChat account "Reformed_Evangelical". He claims that to get a right understanding of “rewards” inspires doing good and lets our life be more reasonable, happier, and hopeful.
Above all, does God reward good deeds done by Christians? The answer is very clear and undoubted -- yes, we will definitely be rewarded for doing good, because it is written: “And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” (Matthew 10:42)
Many people fear talking about “rewards” and even deny them, worrying about being self-righteous, but the Bible promises plainly rewards. Rev. Liang proposes that be clear that Christians are saved through faith. Entering the kingdom is not a reward for our good works and being rewarded has nothing to do with the salvation.
How to view rewards in the Gospel? The pastor claims that God forgives all our sins because of the Gospel that Christ covers our sins. Blind to our transgressions, He sees our good deeds, rejoices for them, and rewards us for them. God who is faithful will reward us since He says to do so. People were rewarded in the Old Testament and so is the same in the New Testament; the apostles were rewarded and so are we.
Why does God reward our good deeds? It compels us to continue doing good and helps us develop a sound personality, which is beneficial to ourselves and others, resulting in more fervor and endurance in kindess. He makes an analogy that wise parents help their children forming good habits by giving them encouragement, praise, and rewards, rather than forcing them to obey things under pressure and in anxiety. Moreover, they are mentally healthier under the first circumstance.
Men are not saved by their good deeds, but Christians should not live at their will after being saved. God who inspires us to do good give us more good things for this. “The path of the righteous is like the morning sun, shining ever brighter till the full light of day.” (Proverbs 4:18)
Another common question about rewards is whether we are given rewards in the present life or the life to come. He believes that rewards are real and we can have many rewards in this life, while eternal rewards are not so important to us for the heaven is perfectly good. So we need rewards in this life because rewards from God motivates us to live in the world without pessimism, instead, encourages the efforts to pursue goodness and be noble persons.
At last he gives us a reminder that Christians should not lose heart in getting rewards. Keep in mind that God promises anyone who gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones a reward.The purpose of giving us rewards is not to stimulate dissension and jealousy among us, instead, to make us encourage and appreciate one another to get more rewards.
Don’t worry that you will do badly and less well than others. Act according to your capability. God also adds grace to good deeds in order to let us act out more of them.
Citing Hebrew 11:6 (“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”), he explains that real faith includes the belief in that God rewards those who earnestly seek him. What’s more, it’s because that we’re saved not by our deeds that we can do good more purely and delightfully.
Translated by Karen Luo