Relationships and Eternal Rewards :: By David Cogburn

What is the most underestimated word in the English language?  It also happens to be God’s favorite word.  Relationship!

Why is that and what is the big deal about relationship?  God is many things but His number one “essence” is Relationship, because God Himself IS a Relationship through being the Trinity Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God does not “need” anything else apart from THAT Relationship, and it is THAT Relationship that brings Him the most pleasure – so much pleasure that He decided to create “more” relationships through His angels to have a personal intimate relationship with Him and with each other.  And later after the fall of one third of the angels, God decided to also create the human race to have a personal intimate relationship with Himself and each other.

The number one essence of relationship is love.  It takes a minimum of two to have a relationship, and you can only have love in a relationship as long as you have the ability not to love, which is free will or free choice.  Love is simply putting others first.  Pride is the opposite.  It is putting yourself first.

Relationship is God’s favorite word because it is WHO God is.  It is what God is all about.  God is LOVE.  Everything that is important to God revolves around relationships – how we love or don’t love others.  Salvation itself is based on only one thing – a personal intimate “relationship” with God through Jesus Christ.  However, our relationship with God through Jesus is FAR different than a “normal” relationship one has with another.  God has actually allowed us to become a part of Himself through the Holy Spirit.

Jesus says in John 14:20 that “I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” Born-again believers are now “connected” to God.  It is the “truest” example of two become one that there is.

The church is referred to as the bride of Christ.  Why is our relationship described as a marital relationship?  Because a marital relationship is the most “intimate” relationship we can have. It is referred to as two become one, and that means a lot more than just sexually.  And being actually “connected” to God is far more “intimate” than any of us can really conceive of this side of heaven.

The Bible over and over again tells us how we are to treat others, and especially the poor and less fortunate.  God’s heart really goes out to them, and God cares a great deal how we show love and compassion to them and to others.  It is always about “others” first, which is, again, simply love.

The title of my article is Relationships and Eternal Rewards.  All born-again believers know or should know that, once we enter heaven, we will all have to face the judgment seat (Bema) of Christ where each of us will be judged, “not” for our salvation, but for our eternal rewards. Our eternal rewards “have favorable consequences” that we don’t fully understand yet but that last for all eternity.

But what are eternal rewards and how do we get them?  As children of Christ, our desire is to please Him, serve Him and glorify Him.  Doing that earns us eternal rewards.  And our eternal rewards always come from things we do for “others” vs. things we do for ourselves.

One of the best examples of this is in Matthew 25 when Jesus is talking about separating the sheep from the goats.  Starting with Matt 25:34 it says: “Then the King will say to those on his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me.

“Then the righteous will answer him – Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?

“The King will reply:  Truly, I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did FOR ME.’”

And “that” is the perfect example of earning eternal rewards – loving and serving others.  Every act of love is not only done for the recipient of that act, but also done “for the Lord” when we serve Him.

Eternal rewards have nothing to do with “achievements,” whether you are the President of the United States or have accomplished any other great achievement that the world honors.  LOVE is what God honors.

1 Cor 13 is the Bible’s great love chapter where it lists a litany of wonderful things we can do for the Lord.  BUT if they are done without love, you gain “nothing,” it says.  Of faith, hope and love, the greatest of these is love.

Showing love and compassion to others and helping others is what pleases God above all else.  And pretty much our eternal rewards are directly proportional to how we demonstrate love to others.

Think about this: What will be the “predominant” essence, if you will, of eternity?  Only one thing – LOVE.  Since we are now connected to God, in eternity we will be able to “love” like God loves. And our love for every single “being” in eternity – billions of beings – will be far greater than we can comprehend now and will be the greatest part of eternity.  Heaven will not be nearly as much about “things and activities” as it will be about love and relationships with each other and with our Lord.

If you have ever read any books from many, many people who have died and had a near-death experience, they pretty much all say the same thing – the LOVE they felt from Jesus and from others was so intense it is virtually indescribable.  How exciting is THAT?  WOW!

So if you want to please and serve the Lord big time and earn tons of eternal reward points, start “focusing” on others.  Help those in need.  Find a way to serve in your church and seek guidance from the Lord on what He would have you do to please Him in this way.  Like everything else, the more you demonstrate love, the better and more natural it will become to you.  And you will be well on your way to becoming the person whom Jesus will greet in heaven by saying, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  It simply doesn’t get any better than that.

We have a lot to look forward to.


David Cogburn