The following excerpt is taken from Making Today Count for Eternity by Kent Crockett, 2001, pages 65-78.
If heaven had a daily newspaper, the headlines would read quite differently than our earthly tabloids. The good deeds which don’t get credit on earth would make the front page in heaven’s newspaper. Take a peek at this edition of “Heaven’s Headlines.”
Keeping You Informed About Significant Events on Earth
“Kathy S. Changes 10,000th Diaper”
“Rod K. Mows Neighbor’s Grass”
“Tony P. Gets Saved, Starts Tithing”
“Max M. Delivers Brownies to Enemy”
“Gayle H. Takes Meal to Sick Person”
“Unnamed Widow Puts Last Two Coins in Treasury Box”
Changing diapers will be rewarded in heaven? Definitely.
Taking brownies to your enemy? Yep.
Putting in your two cents worth? Yes, if you are a poor widow giving an offering. No, if your two cents is a prejudiced opinion.
We’ve got to start thinking differently about what matters to God. Did you know that it’s primarily the little things we do that please Him? That means that anyone, including you, can make the headlines in heaven. It all depends on which world you love most. God not only wants to save us from hell, but also wants to reward us in heaven.
The subject of rewards raises questions. What is the purpose of rewards? Is it selfish to want them? (Hebrews 11:6) says God is a rewarder of those who seek Him. Rewards are simply God’s way of showing that He is pleased with our lives.
“It’s selfish to talk about eternal rewards,” some may argue. “That’ll only make you so heavenly minded that you are of no earthly good.” On the contrary, we should be heavenly minded in order to be of MORE earthly good. Jesus was the most heavenly-minded person to ever walk this planet, and He did more earthly good than anyone in history!
Jesus would not have informed us about heavenly rewards if He didn’t want us to know about them. He could have kept the truth about eternal rewards a big secret, which would be revealed to all on the day of judgment. Instead, He specifically told us that some things we do now will be rewarded in the next life. Why did God give us so much information about rewards? He wants us to know that another world exists beyond this life and that when we serve Him, our labor is not in vain (1 Corinthians 15:58)
What Deeds Will God Reward?
Your name may not be recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records for serving God, but you can have a place in God’s Book of Heavenly Rewards. Listed below are some Scriptures that tell us what God will reward.
Rewards for Being Persecuted
Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN IS GREAT” (Matthew 5:11–12). Jesus said that if we experience persecution on earth, we will be rewarded in heaven. In a world filled with hate, distress, and despair, we need the encouragement that comes from beyond this life. “If we have only hoped Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19) . Our hope reaches into eternity, where Christ reigns over all forever.
Persecution can be anything from being slandered to being tortured. When we are being persecuted, it’s tempting to think God doesn’t love us anymore. How could He allow such a thing? Doesn’t He care? Of course He does. When you’re persecuted, it’s not that the Lord has stopped loving us, it’s just that the world has started hating us!
Jesus said when we are persecuted we should be “glad IN THAT DAY, and leap for joy, for behold, YOUR REWARD IS GREAT in heaven” (Luke 6:23). He revealed this truth about heavenly rewards to motivate us to keep the proper attitude when we are attacked for our faith. These rewards will be more wonderful than we could ever imagine. We should be jumping for joy when we are mistreated, instead of whining and complaining.
Paul received beatings, stoning, scourging, and imprisonment, but always kept his eyes fixed on the next world. In spite of these terrible things he said, “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). Paul considered his earthly problems to be insignificant in light of what awaited him in heaven: “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Once we understand what is transpiring in heaven, we realize that our enemies are actually helping us gain eternal rewards. Of course, our persecutors don’t know this secret about God’s way of blessing us eternally. If they did, they might stop harassing us!
Rewards for Giving Money to the Lord
Jesus said, “Lay up for yourselves TREASURE IN HEAVEN, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:20–21) In heaven moths can’t eat it, rust can’t destroy it, thieves can’t steal it, and the IRS can’t tax it!
When we cheerfully give our offerings to the Lord, He will repay us forever. It takes faith to let go of something we can see in order to gain something that we can’t see. But as martyred missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
What we do with our money reveals what we love the most. If our money could talk, where would it say it had been? A one dollar bill met a fifty dollar bill and said, “Hey, I haven’t seen you around here much. Where have you been?” The fifty dollar bill answered, “I’ve been hanging around at the casinos, the lottery, went on a cruise and did the rounds of the ship, back to the United States for a while, went to a couple of pro football games, to the mall, that kind of stuff. Where have you been? The one dollar bill said, “You know, same old place, church, church, church.”
One day our money will talk, because we will give an account to God for what we did with it. Although we can’t see inside a person’s heart, we can see where his treasure goes. When we look at our treasure, we will find our hearts right in the middle of it.
Jesus told us to invest in the futures market, so to speak, so that our hearts would be interested in the eternal rather than the temporal. He once told a wealthy man, “Go and sell all you possess, and give to the poor, and YOU SHALL HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN; and come, follow Me” (Mark 10:21). He wanted the wealthy man to trade up, to exchange his earthly treasure for heavenly treasure. Because the man was earthly-minded instead of heavenly-minded, he went away grieved.
Giving isn’t hard if we love the object of our gift. But if we don’t love the recipient of the gift, then giving is extremely difficult. Although we can give without loving, we cannot love without giving. Giving our money to the Lord is one proof we love Him more than the things we could have bought with it. Our offering needs to be an act of worship from our hearts. If our offering means nothing to us, then it means nothing to God.
The dollar amount we give on earth is not directly proportional to the amount we’ll receive in heaven. Jesus once watched many rich people as they put large amounts of money in the treasury. After they gave, a poor widow put two small copper coins into the treasury box. Jesus then told His disciples, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury” (Mark 12:43).
How can less be more? The widow only gave two small coins, but she gave a fortune according to heaven’s bookkeeping system. Heaven’s accountants calculate our giving differently than the literal figure we have contributed. God doesn’t measure our generosity by how much we give, but by how much is left over after we give. Do you give to the Lord’s work? Are you giving with a joyful heart?
Rewards for Loving Your Enemies
Do you have a hard time loving those who despise you? It’s difficult because hateful actions can wound us emotionally. How is it possible to love our enemies? We can start the process by praying for them.
In 1994, Cindy Hartman of Conway, Arkansas came home and found a burglar in her house. She dropped to her knees and asked the robber if she could pray for him. “I want you to know that God loves you and I forgive you.” The burglar came under conviction and apologized for breaking into her home. He then yelled to his accomplice in a truck outside, “We’ve got to unload all of this. This is a Christian family. We can’t do this to them.” As Hartman remained on her knees praying for him, the thief returned the furniture he had taken from the home, took the bullets out of his gun, handed the gun to Hartman, and walked out the door. She literally disarmed her enemy by praying for him.
Loving our enemies isn’t a natural reaction, but a supernatural action. Jesus commanded us to love those who hate us. He never commanded us to do something that we aren’t capable of doing with His enabling. He also promised to reward us for it. “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and YOUR REWARD WILL BE GREAT” (Luke 6:35). We can only love our enemies if we view them from heaven’s point of view and access heaven’s power.
Corrie Ten Boom was a prisoner in a German concentration camp during WWII. Years later, speaking in a church in Munich, she spotted in the congregation a former SS soldier who stood guard at the shower room door at Ravensbruck. When the church was dismissed, the former Nazi came up to her and said, “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein. To think that Jesus has washed my sins away!” He then reached out to shake her hand.
Corrie kept her hand by her side as vengeful thoughts boiled within her. Here she stood, face to face with the man who had been so cruel to her. She quickly prayed, “Lord Jesus, forgive me for hating him and help me to forgive him.” She tried to smile and struggled to raise her hand, but couldn’t. Again she prayed, “Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me your forgiveness.” As she slowly lifted her hand and grabbed his, an incredible thing happened. She said, “Into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our own forgiveness that the world’s healing hinges. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
When we love our enemies, we are rewarded both in this life and in the life to come. On the day when the saints are rewarded, will you receive a reward for loving your enemies?
Rewards for Faithfully Working at Your Job
Do you realize how important your job is in God’s eyes? Did you know that God will reward you in heaven for faithfully working at your job? It makes sense that God would have a divine purpose for your professional life since you will spend approximately one third of your life working.
I believe your earthly occupation serves a double purpose: to provide your earthly needs and to determine your job assignment in heaven. God is preparing your eternal reward, in part based upon your faithfulness with your work on earth. William Carey traveled to India in 1793 to start a new work as a pioneer missionary in India. He knew no one there. He had no knowledge of the language. When he died forty years later, he had translated the Bible into three major Indian languages, founded what has become the largest newspaper in India, established the Baptist Union in India, started what has become the largest seminary in India, and did more than any individual to bring the message of Christ to that subcontinent. William Carey was faithful to his calling.
Although you might not be called to the mission field, you are called to be faithful at your place of employment. Be faithful to God’s call, whatever it is. Paul said, “Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord YOU WILL RECEIVE THE REWARD of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Colossians 3:22–24)
Slaves were the lowest class of people in Roman society. In men’s eyes, they had no rights. Isn’t it amazing that Jesus pointed to the slave as the premier role model for us? He said, “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:44). Although slaves had the most insignificant of all jobs, God promised to reward them in heaven if they would work for Him rather than for men.
Do you realized the significance of this? If you think your life doesn’t count, think again. If slaves can be rewarded for doing lowly tasks for God’s glory, then the same principle applies to every believer in Christ. Martin Luther once wrote: “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty, not by putting little crosses on shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”
The Christian mother who changes her baby’s diapers will be rewarded forever for performing that duty. Don’t you believe that having clean diapers is God’s will for a newborn? Of course it is. That means that changing diapers is doing God’s will. And anything that is God’s will has eternal significance. Someone had to change Jesus’ diapers, after all—I’m sure those swaddling clothes got a little messy at times. God was pleased when Mary put clean Pampers on her baby.
The greatest in God’s kingdom is the servant of all, which includes serving infants. Babies can’t change their own diapers, so they must depend upon someone else to do it. True religion is to care for orphans and widows—those who need help (James 1:27).
The Christian mechanic who honestly repairs vehicles, the farmer who spends long hours in the field, the butcher who works hard in the beef packing plant, the clerk at the store who diligently waits on people, and the hard-working office secretary are all performing significant work in the kingdom of God. How do I know? Because Abraham raised cattle for a living. Jacob raised sheep. They spent many days taking care of livestock in rural areas. And God was pleased with their lives, even though no one knew who they were at the time.
Get a new perspective on your earthly occupation. Your vocation is a part of your calling in the kingdom of God. So whatever your job may be, start considering God as your primary boss and you will find eternal significance in your occupation.
Rewards for Supporting Ministries
Jesus said, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet SHALL RECEIVE A PROPHET’S REWARD… And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward” (Mark 10:40-42). When we support churches and ministries that are spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will also share in their reward. God will even reward something as insignificant as giving a cup of cold water in His name.
Rewards for Doing Good
“With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free” (Ephesians 6:7-8). God makes an incredible promise in this passage. He will personally reward us for every good deed we perform after we are born again. That’s phenomenal, isn’t it? Whenever we help someone, speak a kind word, or go out of our way to meet a need or bless someone, God will reward us for each deed.
God gave us this information for a reason. Can you see how having this knowledge could change the way we treat people? If you knew that God was creating your eternal assignments based on your actions and reactions toward others, wouldn’t it inspire you to be kind instead of rude? This promise helps us understand that our earthly actions have eternal purposes.
A Summary List of Rewards
Here is a list of some things God will reward on the judgment day, if these deeds are performed with love, kindness, and a pure heart toward God.
Witnessing to someone about Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:16-17)
Leading someone to salvation (Proverbs 11:30)
Being martyred for Christ (Hebrews 11:37)
Seeking God diligently (Hebrews 11:6)
Giving money for God’s work (Matthew 6:3-4, 19-20)
Praying (Matthew 6:6)
Fasting (Matthew 6:17-18)
Budgeting money wisely (Luke 16:11-12)
Faithfully serving the Lord in ministry (Luke 19:17, 1 Corinthians 15:58)
Helping others (Luke 6:35)
Loving those who don’t love in return (Matthew 5:46)
Treating others with honor (Matthew 10:41)
Being a godly spouse and parent (1 Peter 3:3-7)
Faithfulness in earthly jobs (Colossians 3:22-24)
Doing good deeds (Ephesians 6:7-8)
Submitting with respect to unreasonable employers (1 Peter 2:18-20)
Being persecuted for His name’s sake (Luke 6:22-23)
Having a servant’s attitude (Mark 10:43-45)
Humbling ourselves (Matthew 18:4)
Doing little things for others (Matthew 10:42)
Helping the poor (Proverbs 19:17)
Visiting widows and orphans in their distress (James 1:27)
Living righteously (Proverbs 11:31)
You probably won’t make any headlines in earth’s newspapers if you do the things listed above. But that’s okay. Earth’s newspapers are used to wrap dead fish. Heaven’s Headlines will be remembered forever