(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Eternal Rewards On The Road Less Traveled
By Michelle Ochen
We have all heard life described as a journey, headed to a final destination. It may be an overused description, but an accurate one. Discovering the value of the journey comes in understanding the destination and what awaits there. As believers we trust that this life is not the destination, we await heaven. We have faith in what the Scriptures say that the efforts we put in while on earth hold an eternal weight in eternity. This belief gives us great purpose in our living. How hopeless is the concept of life containing an unguaranteed number of years and then a grave? The promise of Scripture that the grave is only a step into eternal life and that what we invested in during our years on earth will be weighted out in eternal blessings is more than a hope, it is a reason for the living. (Matthew 18:18) Life takes on immense meaning when the journey’s strivings have an eternal reward.
The concept of eternal rewards should influence the priorities of our time and talents on earth. Jesus told a story of three servants being given unique gifts of money and told to be good stewards of it. Two invested it and made double the profit, however, the last servant buried it in the dirt and it accumulated to nothing. When the master returned, he blessed the first two servants for being faithful to multiple but to the servant who buried the talent, it was taken from him and given to the one who invested the most. Jesus used this story to give a picture of our responsibility to use the life and resources we have been given for eternal multiplying (Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus encouraged us to seek first heaven, to have a mindset of what is to come, not to get stuck on the limited period of this life. We are in this world but not to be investing into the world, but into heaven. How does this look practically?
In the day today, we can be investing in eternity by investing in souls. Every human is a soul, and the destination of each soul lies in the freewill choice of the individual. How can one choose if they are unsure of their options? As believers, we are called to be the fragrance of Christ and life to those around us. The world will know you are a Christ-follower by your love and by the fragrance you carry. I love this picture because it is simple. Think of receiving a baby from the arms of a woman who is wearing a fine fragrance, you are not wearing the fragrance but now that you are holding the baby, you are smelling it upon them. In the same way, the more time we spend with Jesus, the more those around us will receive His aroma by the way we live our lives. Our choices and responses should look different than those living only for this life. A heart set on the destination to come can respond to the difficulties of this life with a broader perspective.
Life on earth is difficult. Jesus never promised anything different, but He did promise His peace amid the hardships and His rewards to those who honor Him in the difficulties. Every challenge in life brings out something from the one challenged. You can show forth anger and bitterness, or you can show forth endurance and faith. There is no way to avoid life’s difficulties but there is a way to respond to them in a way that brings eternal reward or temporal pleasure. Many when faced with challenges will run to something or someone to ease the pain, distract, or numb. These temporary pleasures commonly bring limited relief but do not fill the tank of the heart. The other option is to press in hard to the Lord during hard times and allow His Spirit to lead you in the difficulties and use them as teachers to grow you. This is the road less traveled and is not filled with instant relief but a struggle through, but within is where eternal rewards are found and more of God’s heart is revealed. Some of these rewards are found in the journey as we learn of His heart and others, He is storing up for us when we get home. A proper understanding of eternal rewards leaves a heart with a pursuit to gain to give back in worship to the Lord before His throne. We are told that before the throne many cast their crowns. A heart enraptured in Christ will desire to invest now in the jewels to come to give back a crown of splendor to the Giver of life (Revelation 4:10-11).