“We have to pay for school lunches this year,” my daughter informed me after the first day of school. I already knew this. During the previous school year, the school district had subsidized school lunches for all the kids, as part of the state’s Covid relief, but the school system wasn’t able to sustain that for another year. This led to a family conversation on how even the things that appear free to us actually always have a cost that needs to be met in some way.
I went down a rabbit hole with that, thinking about the things we do for others, like donating our time, money, and resources to others. It’s free to them, but it costs the giver. Does anyone pay for that? Which got me thinking about rewards in heaven and whether or not we should be motivated by said rewards. Can I think I won’t get “paid” for this here on earth, but I will in heaven?
Jesus talked a lot about rewards in heaven, for example: “The Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.”1 “I assure you that whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ will certainly be rewarded.”2
Jesus made over 40 references to rewards, treasures in heaven, crowns of life, eternal life, and what you receive for obedience, compassion, and suffering for Christ’s sake. The rest of the Bible also has a lot to say on the subject.
The point is that rewards in heaven are supposed to be motivating. The idea of “winning big” in heaven is supposed to be a source of strength and resolve for things that cost us in this life. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be motivated to love as God loved us, “in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”3
But when that’s hard, when it costs you, remember, “I am coming soon! And when I come, I will reward everyone for what they have done.”4