God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.
God also blesses those who obey his Word (Deuteronomy 30:16) and love his Son (John 1:12).
So what is this great reward? A unending supply of chocolate? The absence of toil and stress? Seventy virgins? Mankind has concocted rather insulting views of eternity based on limited imagination and creativity.
But God is preparing a place for Believers where he is making all things new according to Revelation 21:5. Not all new things that we don’t understand or recognize. But a recognizable, familiar, but an incredibly perfect eternity. Work, but perfect work. Relationships, but perfect relationships. Bodies, but unlimited in capability and not prone to illness or breaking down bodies. Things anew. Things restored.
Is that the great reward?
I believe God pointed out to Stephen what the great reward is. Stephen was, in fact, doing exactly what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 5. He was being persecuted for following Jesus. And right before he died, what did God show him? A banquet table with fine food? A beautiful mansion? A million bucks? No.
Acts 7:54-60 describes our great reward...
54 The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. 55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 56 And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
57 Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him 58 and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.
God could have shown Stephen anything, but he showed him Jesus. Jesus is our Great Reward! Anything else God loving provides for us is his blessing, but Jesus, his Son, is our great reward.
Dear Lord Jesus,
I love this. I love knowing the answer to the ancient question of what our reward will be. It’s not riches, virgins or chocolate. It’s YOU! All of you! Knowing you perfectly, being with you constantly, and completely being like you finally. It’s YOU! Thank you so much. I pray right now for Rick’s father who is getting close to receiving his Great Reward. Bless his family he leaves behind. Give them comfort and sustaining grace. Thank you that his dad knows you and loves you and that we will see him again when we too see all things new. Please comfort Rick especially as he takes care of his mom and family. Give him strength, wisdom, courage, and joy. I’m so glad you miraculously provide these things for us especially when we need it most. I love you and praise you and thank you in your name, I pray. Amen.