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Wage Issues

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.

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15 Responses to “Wage Issues”

  1. SFDBWV says:

    I am reminded of an incident that occured while we were living in the hallway at the University Hospital. Matthew was in intensive care and we lived in a cubicle there in the hallway for 23 days. One of the many wonderful people that we met was a prison guard.

    He was there to guard a fellow who had been sent from the State Prison whlie the prisoner was in critical condition.

    He and I became friends right away and we talked of God and of our faith often.

    One morning aroun 4am he came to me all excited because he had been on a self imposed journey to find out what the “Prophet’s reward” was, and he had found the answer.

    The reward was God…….

    I have often thought of the matter, and can only say that what else could we possibly want that is of more value than, God?


  2. Called2Serve says:

    Hello all! Best wishes to you all as you go throughout your day!

    I agree, Mart, that both gifts and rewards are important. They are different in many aspects, but both are necessary in a way.

    Gifts are free with no expected payback, except for gratitude, of course. Gifts are not worked for. Gifts are sometimes surprises, and sometimes unanticipated. Gifts are received with no expectations or things needed to be done before-hand. God spontaneously decides to bless us with gifts while we are here on earth. The only task that we need to do when we receive gifts is to be thankful.

    Rewards are worked for. Rewards provide a driving force to get tasks done. Rewards are motivation. Rewards are almost never surprises, but they can be. Most often the person knows of their reward before they are able to receive it, because they still need to work for it. Rewards are received after your task has been completed adequately. Our rewards in heaven will be given to us after we have completed what God has called us to do. This should be our driving force to get things done here on earth.

    Just my thoughts…

    -savannah =]

  3. dependent says:

    Thank you Mart for pondering these things in the “open”–your posts serve to sharpen me.

    It occurs to me that one key factor in the difference between gifts and rewards has to do with timing. And time has everything to do with faith and hope. We follow Christ in this dimension that eternity transcends.

    God gives gifts, both natural and supernatural. At the time, place and to whom he wishes to bless. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. He gives various supernatural gifts to whom he pleases–and when he pleases.

    But rewards connote a future transaction–one that is anticipated and based on a promise. A guarantee of justice or blessing related to our actions. And, our greatest reward, the hope of our faith, the reason to perservere in the race, is the hope eternal glory.

    Our orientation towards grace recognizes the unearned gift of eternal life. Our orientation toward continuing sanctification and eternity in paradise recognizes the rewards laid up for us who remain faithful.

    Could it be that our fleshly appetites yearn for that “transactional” experience, sometimes immediate, when we get rewarded here and now for doing good? Could it be that the sinful nature of Adam within us leans toward the blunt and temporal transactions of mere religion?

    But the person of faith, empowered by the gift of the Holy Spirit, follows Christ with certain thankfulness for the gifts bestowed on us today, but choosing by faith to store up rewards in heaven. For that is the only way we will be able to give them back, uncorrupted, at the feet of Jesus.

  4. poohpity says:

    The gift of salvation was given without anything in return not even to say thank you. When a believer can do something without wanting even a thank you then our reward will be in heaven. Think about it, just a thank you from someone is a reward in itself. Some tithe to get the deduction, give to receive thank you but Christ gave with no gratitude from us only denial yet He still forgave us.

    It is like the military they give their lives and get very few dollars yet stand to loose family, lives and at times respect from those americans who feel like what they are doing is wrong.

    Again just to take a moment to look at the motive. Sometimes the motive can be hidden and the reason we do something can be hidden it does something for self. With taking care of my mom, when I am doing it for self righteousness I tend to try and take over rather than allowing her to do the things she can do for herself. I want to be in control. When I was training to be a Stephens Minister one of the primary lessons was to give care and the Lord was the cure. To walk along side someone while holding firmly to the Lord so we did not focus on what we did but watched what the Lord could do. Then all the Glory went to the place it belonged to God.

  5. dependent says:

    Perhaps Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vinyard (Matt 20:1-16) will shed light on this relationship between wages and gifts and rewards?

    A customary and established wage, justly paid for work completed, is contrasted with a wage paid in a generous manner. All workers were rewarded a wage for their work. Some workers’ wages included a surprisingly generous gift.

    OT vs. NT transactions? Rewards vs. gifts. Works vs. grace. And the human struggle with time and justice when observing how God chooses to interact with those chosen to work his vinyard.

  6. HEY REV says:

    Mart:I wonder where you come up with these two or sometimes three way understanding’s.
    I will answer as best as I can.
    I give gifts out (like most of us) with never expecting anything back from the individual. A gift should never be expected back in an action or reward. Scripture tells us “give expecting nothing in return”
    LK 6:35b. A loan is not the same. It should be returned upon an agreement.
    When God gives a gift He will never ask for it back. All of us have seen Spiritual gifts being mis-used by individuals yet we wonder why. Because it’s for keeps (Romans 11:29)
    Why try and WORK for something we could never ever complete and that’s our Salvation. When Jesus said “it is finished” it’s finished.
    Now rewards to me are an encouragement. If I save financially and there is a reward,so be it. I’m striving toward that mark. Most of us are working to that “RETIREMENT TIME” which really is a reward. We deserve it. We worked for it. I don’t think none of us know how God has got our rewards worked out. We might be very surprised. I was raised in my faith to try and please God not for WHAT HE DID FOR ME but to build up enough REWARDS to maybe make it into Heaven, and get a higher cloud number, and boy did I work at it. Just before I got saved I felt I had enough to not only get into Heaven but a very high numbered cloud.
    Sure glad the Holy Spirit showed me otherwise. for now I only work for the pure joy of works to THANK MY SAVIOR for what He did for me just my salvation. I couldn’t work long enough, hard enough, or anything enought just to try and REPAY.
    I don’t think much about my rewards because I do not want to concentrate ONLY ON THAT.
    I’ve worked so hard to try and please others most of my life (and still find myself at times doing just that) I don’t want to fall into the same trap with my Heavenly rewards. If I have some GREAT. I know people when they found out the balance of their financial tally was much higher than they expected, they were elated. I guess I would like that same expectation when I leave this hotel and get back home.
    Than I will see what I will see.
    I have a quote I followed for many years now and it goes like this.
    Look out for the other one second. (of course God first)
    Those of you reading this I pray you all beat me and have a higher cloud than I do. Most important thing is that we will; “ALL BE THERE.”
    God bless.

  7. bubbles says:

    Hey Rev,

    I responded to your blog to me on May 23rd. Hope you can refer back to that section. Thank you, bubbles

  8. HEY REV says:

    Mart: As I was talking to someone about this issue and repeated a little of what I bloged earlier I can see where they might have misunderstood. I did not want to come across that I’m trying to work up many rewards before I get there. Can’t and never will work out that way. Same thing as you said Bubbles. We all will receive some crowns (James 1:12–I Peter 5:4–Rev 2:10) I could be wrong but I believe there are seven available possibilties.
    I repeat myself please: We cannot work up REWARDS OR WORKS for our salvation. When I get Home I will than see if I have ANY REWARDS. Again I’m not concerned how many I have, or even if I don’t have any. I’m HOME, AND THAT’S ALL THAT MATTERS.
    I did not want you to think bubbles that you are trying to work out your salvation. If you took it that way, my appoligies.
    I should have remember the quote: “SILENCE CAN NEVER BE MIS-QUOTED”
    God bless all my sisters & brothers Lord as we walk our path you designed for each one of us till that day, in Jesus Name.

  9. poohpity says:

    I believe that scripture tells us whatever crowns we have received they will be cast to the feet of Jesus. I understand this to mean that we will understand that it was through Him and by Him that they were received and we will be humbled in His presence.

    Our reward will be to see Him face to face with no fear but in awe and everything that was done here will be forgotten.

  10. logmas says:

    From someone who has been there.

    I hope you folks understand just how serious unemployment and underemployment really is.

    When the rent is due then the rent is due.

    I so wish the “church” could really get a handle on this.

  11. daisymarygoldr says:

    Wages that will be paid at some point later will be the same for everyone… wages of sin is death and wages of righteousness is eternal life… and yes, it is not something we earn but a gift that is bestowed… because it is not our righteousness rather His righteousness that guarantees eternal security.

    You are right, without the “gifts of God’s Spirit, mercy, and grace we cannot do anything to earn this reward.Thankfully, no one will have to settle for “a lower base wage”… whether one accepted Christ at the last dying breath or has been following Him their entire lives… we will be all paid the same wages/reward… so there is no complaining or competing.

    Rewards however, will certainly differ. “Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor” (I Cor. 3:8). It is a special recognition for saints who have remained faithful against all odds… those who have forsaken all to follow Christ…

    …those who have committed themselves to fulfill the great commission i.e. those who denied themselves to sacrifice their lives for the Gospel’s sake… those who toil and labor despite extreme persecution… and may not have been recognized by their fellow brothers and sisters here on earth.

    I don’t if anyone here is able to relate to this but personally I had the privilege of witnessing such precious hidden lives in Christ…lives of saints with deep and unwavering faith… that silently suffered… enduring trials of inhuman proportions…

    …unsung heroes of faith… they just kept marching on despite being forsaken by friends and family, riddled with perpetual illness which was like passing through the valley of the shadow of death for their entire lives here on earth.

    They faithfully persevered to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” their single-hearted devotion to Christ surpassed their devotion to temporal things… because they considered the afflictions of their temporal lives as light when compared to the weight of eternal glory…

    “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully” (2 John 1:8)

  12. Mart De Haan says:

    logmas, thanks for your comment. I can see that by referring to the problem of unemployment as a way of getting to spiritual “security” and “wages” could leave the impression of “using” the problem of unemployment rather than understanding, or at least respecting, its gravity.

  13. kaliko88 says:

    Maybe the dual emphasis is also to get us to have a balance on our thoughts. There are times when certain subjects come up in the bible like this, where we aren’t supposed to think of them too highly, but we aren’t supposed to ignore them either. We’re simply supposed to try to look at them and use them rightly.

    I know we can’t earn the gifts we have already received, and I don’t really try to do things to earn the rewards that are promised. Thinking of wages works to remind me that there are consequences to everything, good and bad. Even before I truly believed in Christ with my heart, I kind of followed a philosophy that you don’t really need a reason to do good or help others. But knowing that doesn’t mean I can’t look forward to those rewards. My relationship with God is personal, and so it will not surprise me if those rewards are meant just for me. In a way that’s an extra reward, just knowing that he gave me something with me in mind.

    I’m not being very clear, but I do know there is a balance to be sought in these ideas.

  14. poohpity says:


    I hope you are asking for help from your church. I understand about your despair from the church, I have experienced the lack of help and even concern, it is very sad. I pray for the Lord to open their eyes to the need. Our church collects money to send kids to a very expensive church camp which was a blessing for me when my boys were growing up because they have ADHD and for them to go away for a week was a blessing. Now I look at it in the times we are in and wonder if it is appropriate. It would be nice if our churches were the place to go for assistance rather than the government, I think that is what the Lord had intended but we all mess up.

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