This week's 'thought' comes
to you from Marcia
Hornok, writer, editor and pastor's wife. It has
to do with our motives for serving God and is applicable to the life of any
believer. In reading it I felt it was wise, relevant,
and spot on -- so I share it with you. It is taken from the
most current "Voice"
magazine, Jan-Feb. 2014. Enjoy!
"Human nature craves
recognition and reward. I like having my articles published, seeing the
room full in my Ladies Bible Study, and hearing people thank my husband for his
sermons. But is that my motive for serving God? What do I deserve as a result
of walking by faith for several decades? What did our biblical relatives,
listed in Hebrews 11, receive for their faithfulness?
The chapter clearly
indicates their eternal reward (vv. 13-16, 26, 39-40). They were approved of
God (vv. 2, 5, 16, 39). But did that include earthly rewards as
well? The chapter lists some of the things those who lived by faith received on
earth. They 'conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises,
shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging fire, escaped the edge of the
sword, gained strength after being weak, became mighty in battle, and put
foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead raised to life again.'
So far so good.
But the list continues.
'Some men were tortured, not accepting release...and others experienced
mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned,
they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheep
skins and goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated... They wandered in
deserts, mountains, caves and holes in the ground (vv. 33-38).
Such was the reward of
walking by faith and pleasing God. Some had their loved ones brought back to
life; some watched their loved ones tortured to death. Living by faith can lead
to totally opposite outcomes in this life.
Faith does not guarantee
earthly credentials, credits, or accomplishments. These heroes and heroines of
faith believed God's promises even though they never came to pass in their
lifetimes (v. 39). They concentrated on pleasing God, not on being successful
or effective (vv. 5-6). Enduring whatever came their way, they remained
faithful to the end because their eyes were set on the invisible, future reward
of the heavenly city whose architect and builder is God (v. 10)...
Too often, I have
expected temporal rewards for living right, serving God, and enduring trials. I
have measured my success (and that of others) by visible, countable results.
Instead, I need to live for eternity and God's approval there, not for earth
and human affirmation here.
God will look for my
usefulness, not my effectiveness. And I can only be useful when I'm dependent
upon Him, abiding in His fellowship (John 15:5). Even though God does bless and
reward us in this life, I must not expect that, or set my hopes on it. To do so
results in either arrogance (over what I have) or anger (over what I don't
have). My motive for pleasing God cannot be what I will get out of it. I live
by faith, not to gain God's favor, but because I have God's favor. We endure to
the end, not to get what we want, but to give God what He deserves.
Walking by faith means
trusting God with the results as we labor together. I plant and/or water; He
gives (or does not give) the increase (I Cor. 3:7-9). I should concentrate on
my responsibility, not His. Then, someday, when faith becomes sight, I will bow
before Him, utterly unworthy of His promised rewards."
In a culture so focused on
numbers, and getting results, and achieving great things, and being successful,
it is helpful to remember that God never calls us to be successful, He calls us
to be faithful and endure to the end. And He calls us to such faithfulness even
though we may be entirely unable to point to huge numbers, significant
results, or noteworthy success (as measured by earthly standards).
As our passage from Hebrews
11 points out, some of the most blessed of God's faithful servants -- people "of whom the world was not worthy" -- had nothing to show for their
faithful service to Christ except persecution, suffering, poverty,
homelessness, and eventual (and sometimes extremely painful) martyrdom.
I know. Not a good
selling point from a worldly perspective. But then again, we don't
win people to Christ by our salesmanship. God does so as His Spirit exerts
the powerful influences of His calling, regenerating, and converting
My part is to remain
faithful -- to Him, His Word, and my duty of seed-planting or watering. Then I
must simply leave the rest to Him. And when all is said and
done, our "reward" is ultimately the fact that we had
the blessed privilege and opportunity of serving our gracious
Redeemer and being even the smallest part of His redemptive plan for