One of the concerns we keep hearing about in the present job market is that in a downward adjusting economy those who are laid off may have to re-employ at a lower base wage than they left behind. And if inflation kicks in?
Seems like a good time to review our contract/covenant issues with the source of our real security.
There is another “wage-issue” worth thinking about.
Why does Jesus talk so much in his Sermon on the Mount about rewarding those who secretly trust him? Doesn’t much of the rest of the New Testament make it clear that a relationship with God is based on receiving gifts we know we don’t deserve rather than rewards we’ve earned?
In another recent post on “keeping secrets with God” we noticed that, in the same Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talked about the importance of our motives. He taught his disciples not to pray, fast, or give charitable gives for the purpose of impressing and gaining the approval of others. Instead he taught them to pray, fast, and give to others for the purpose of reflecting well on God. To do that he suggested that we need to see how important it is to have secret ways of relating to God so that our lives are not all about trying to impress others. By making such an emphasis Jesus also showed God’s interest in helping us sort out and enabling good motives.
But that brings us back to the issue of rewards. Jesus says those who make a display of their “piety” already have their reward (i.e. in the attention they get from others). He encourages us instead to learn the value of keeping secrets that the Father in heaven will (at some point now or later) reward openly.
In making his point. Jesus uses a couple of different words for reward, both of which carry the idea of “payment or wages due.”
How do we explain the idea of working for “wages” when Paul says so clearly in his letter to the Romans, that a right relationship with God is the result of believing God for grace we don’t deserve rather than on trying to work for wages earned (Rom 4:4-8)?
Interestingly Jesus is not alone in this emphasis. A surprising number of passages in the New Testament talk about the rewards of both faith and sin (Heb 11:6; Rev 22:12).
Seems to me that the dual emphasis on gift and reward shows that both are more important than we might want to believe. If we want the gifts of God we need to remember that God promises to reward to those who diligently seek him (Heb 11:6). If we want his rewards, we need to remember the gifts of God’s Spirit, mercy, and grace that are necessary to do anything he will reward.