Well, this is a new experience for us. Standing in the Walmart parking lot in our town, we wait as a huge, car-carrier truck approaches. After much discussion and thought, my wife and I have decided to send the vehicle we’re giving to Grace ahead to College Station, Texas, rather than attempt to buy her a different one down there. The shipping is not cheap, but more affordable than starting from scratch.
For the last few days, Grace has been selecting what things – mostly clothes – would go in the car. They allow a hundred pounds for free, but everything must be securely tied down. Now, as I watch the drive hydraulically tilt cars to crazy angles to make room for ours, I realize why.
As I helped the process of packing – I consider myself particularly good at what I call “spacial capacity design” (ie. packing things to fit) – I kept thinking about what we send ahead spiritually.
It’s an odd thought. We all know the adage, “you can’t take it with you.” But there is much in the New Testament that points to the fact that we can do things in this life that somehow accrue a reward in the next one. Throughout the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, Jesus talks about this. Multiple times he says,
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matt. 6:6)
The noun for reward (misthos) is more literally translated as “wages.” One commentator defines it as “what is due.” At the end of Revelation, Jesus says:
“Look, I am coming soon! My reward (misthos) is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” Rev. 22:12
We’re not talking salvation here. Scripture is clear that we cannot earn God’s favor. Salvation is the free gift of God, given through his grace. These “wages” are firmly within the context of a life saved by Jesus’s substitutionary death.
As I watch our dear old Subaru find its place on the truck, I think about what I’m sending forward into the next world through my actions. I wonder about the nature of this reward. Jesus teaches us in Matthew 6 that prayer, fasting, giving and kind deeds can earn us these heavenly wages.
Perhaps, and this is totally pure speculation, the reward is the ability to experience or process the joy of heaven more. Might it be that the things we do in Jesus’s name in this world acclimate us to the next one? We learn to speak its language, as it were.
I don’t know. But this whole process reminds me that we are all on a journey. This life is not our final destination. And just as my daughter is excited for what awaits her next, I am to anticipate the world that waits just beyond my view.
And this concept of reward, whatever it may turn out to be, is a way to keep me looking to the horizon.
Father God, we don’t know how you will reward us. Being with you is reward enough! But thank you for reminders that we are to store our treasure in heaven and not on this earth. We’re excited to see what that treasure turns out to be!
Reader: Any thoughts on what these heavenly “rewards” will be? Feel free to share them with me.