Charlie Bing gives us a great summation of why a believer does works for the Lord when he wrote: “We know that rewards are not the only, or necessarily the best, motivation for godly living. Love, gratitude, and duty are some of the highest motivations for serving God in this life. But there is nothing wrong with the encouragement and consolation that rewards bring. Since rewards are decreed and designed by God, they shouldn’t be considered inferior or scorned in contempt. Every Christian should be taught about rewards” (Simply by Grace: An Introduction to God’s Life-Changing Gift 105).
This is a solid statement. Rewards are an encouragement for living a godly life. The Lord Himself tells us to store up treasures in heaven and not on earth. So rewards are a large part of why we serve the Lord with our works here. But the reward is not the only motivation. Take a sporting event, whatever sport you like. The team desires the win. They want to be victorious and come out on top. The trophy or ring is second to their desire to finish well and as the victor.
This is what we should be like in our Christian walk. We desire to live a victorious life because we want to win. When we win it means we have lived a pleasing life for God. We can say along with the apostle, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
We fight the good fight because we love the Lord and know He is worth the fight. We seek to finish the race because our Lord finished the race for us when He died and rose again. We seek to live this holy life because we love our Lord and Savior.
We do not do it out of an idea of repaying and thus reducing our salvation to a barter and trade level. No, we do it because we are so enraptured with love for our Savior and Lord. We see that He gave everything for us and we see that the least we can do is give all we can for Him.
Simply put, we strive to win the game because the victory is worth it. With this win, we have lived a God-honoring and God-pleasing life. Then the cherry on top is our ever so grace-filled God sweetens our living for Him with rewards. We receive these amazing blessings when we have lived in a manner that is pleasing to Him. Our works and holy living are for God alone, and as a good witness for others to follow, but never as a means to keep our salvation or earn it or to repay God for it. No, it is because of love and motivation to finish well and receive our rewards for being the victor.