THE REWARD OF THE RIGHTEOUS
by Wayne S. Walker
"So that men will say, ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely He is God who judges the earth’" (Psalm 58:11). I suspect that all of us have seen wanted posters in the Post Office or in old western movies where a reward is offered for the capture of a criminal. Our English word "reward" comes from a Latin root meaning to guard, through the Old French, and is defined as, "Something given or done in return; especially, a gift, prize, or recompense for merit, service, or achievement." Parents understand that part of raising children involves giving them rewards for good behavior.
God offers a reward to those who serve Him now in this life. Speaking of Jesus Christ as our foundation, Paul wrote, "If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward" (1 Corinthians 3:14). All of us have sinned, but by His grace God offers us the reward of forgiveness of sin, based upon the sacrifice of Christ, in return for our obedience to His will. Then as we strive to serve Him, He offers us many rewards in return for our faithfulness to Him. "…Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come" (1 Timothy 4:8),
Of course, as this last passage reminds us, God’s reward for His people is not limited to this life. Jesus said, "And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to His work" (Revelation 22:12). The infidel considers the Christian’s hope of a future reward to be just wishful thinking, a leap of faith in the dark, nothing but "pie in the sky by and by." However, Paul reminds us, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:19-20).
The Christian’s hope of a reward is not just a figment of our imagination but is based squarely upon the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It is not the purpose of this article to discuss all the evidence for the historicity of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. However, when considered by an honest heart, the scriptures present all the evidence needed to accept the truthfulness of Christ’s resurrection, and this in turn is sufficient evidence of our reward. "Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward" (2 John v. 8).