Q. I understand that when we get to Heaven our works on Earth will be judged according to our motives for doing them. But Jesus said to store up treasures in Heaven instead of here on Earth, and Paul said we can earn rewards in Heaven, including the receipt of Crowns. My question is: Does striving to receive rewards in Heaven for our deeds on Earth, even in part, constitute a sin? Deep down how can we not have a selfish motive in doing His work when we have these kinds of rewards in mind?
A. It’s true that our works will be judged based on the motives of our hearts. (1 Cor 4:5) But Jesus told us to store up treasure in Heaven (Matt. 6:19-21). And in 1 Cor. 9:24-27 Paul used a sports analogy to encourage us to “run in such a way as to get the prize.” He was speaking about winning a crown for achieving victory over our sin nature.
Our behavior as Christians is how we demonstrate our gratitude to the Lord for our salvation. As long as that’s our motive, there’s no problem. The trouble begins if we ever start thinking that we’re helping to earn or keep our salvation by doing these things, or that because of doing them we deserve something other believers don’t deserve. It’s gratitude, not greed, that makes our behavior on Earth pleasing to the Lord.