Love Rewarded

November 17, 2019

We all want to offer something to God as a sacrifice. And because he is God, what can we possibly offer to him that will please him? He deserves the best from us. As we take an inventory of our possessions, we can include in the list our money, houses, cars and jewelry as among our most treasured possessions. But will these offerings please God? In his epistle, the apostle Paul mentioned an offering that will please God the most. He said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship” (Rom. 12:1).

Yes, God is most pleased when we offer our bodies, not as a burnt offering but as a living sacrifice. The living sacrifice that God requires is our wholehearted service to him. In serving the Lord, we must have the right attitude. He said, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23-24). We cannot give him half-hearted service and expect to be pleasing before him and be rewarded in the process.

Having seen the believers in Thessalonica serve the Lord, the apostle Paul praised them saying, “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1:3). From these statements, we can see three heart attitudes that we can maintain for our service to be pleasing before the Lord. Firstly, our work should be the product of our faith. To emphasize the need to do things out of faith, the apostle Paul said, “But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). In fact, we are also told that “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb. 11:6).

Secondly, our labor must be prompted by love. When we serve the Lord, we should do it not as an obligation, but out of our love for him. Service done as an obligation is burdensome, but service done out of love is light and rewarding. This was the case of the Macedonian church. We are told that “out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (2 Cor. 8:2-3). Their love overcame their poverty. When we love, there is no limit to what we can offer. Jesus emphasized this saying, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Thirdly, our endurance must be inspired by hope. We are motivated to endure when we are expectant of better things coming. This was demonstrated by the Lord Jesus Christ when he overcame the cross. Therefore, we are encouraged to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). When we are facing difficulties in life, do not just endure but enjoy the moment as you look forward to the Lord’s great deliverance. The men and women of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 did exactly that. Because they endured, “Women received back their dead, raised to life again. Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection” (Heb. 11:35).

God is also most pleased with us when we are able to live out our Christian life. We are encouraged by the apostle Paul saying, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased” (Heb. 13:15-16). To offer the “sacrifice of praise” is to thank the Lord for the blessings that are yet to come. When we pray for blessings, we not only praise the Lord when the blessing is received, but we continually praise God for it while it is still on its way. This is how we manifest our faith in the Lord, because “faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Heb. 11:1). May our lives be a pleasing sacrifice to God as we live out our faith in him. Hallelujah!