Q. Hi, I love your website. My question is on what works are our Rewards at the Bema Seat based upon? Is it our obedience to the Lord’s commandments on a day to day basis, struggling to be obedient in times of Temptation, etc. Or are they something different, like seeing a starving person on the street, and getting them a sandwich to eat, or giving someone some clothes that are in need? Or is it a combination of both?
A. In Matt. 6 Jesus warned us to perform our “acts of righteousness” in private, as well as our prayers and fasting, to avoid getting immediate credit on Earth at the expense of future credit in Heaven. He also said the be careful not to store up earthly treasure, but use our earthly substance to build up treasure in Heaven.
In rewarding tribulation believers at the 2nd Coming, He said, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matt. 25:40) By this He meant protecting and caring for other believers, especially Jews.
In 1 Cor. 4:5 Paul said that the random acts of kindness we perform have to be done with pure motives, expecting no recognition for ourselves.
He also spoke of crowns for the Church as rewards for certain kinds of behavior. These crowns are identified as the Everlasting Crown (Victory) in 1 Cor 9:25, Crown of the Soul Winner in Phil 4:1 and 1 Thes 2:19, Crown of Righteousness in 2 Tim 4:8, Crown of Life in Jas 1:12 and Rev 2:10, and the Crown of Glory in 1 Peter 5:4.
The Crown of Victory is for believers who overcome the temptations of this world and live a victorious Christian life. The Crown of the Soul Winner is for those whose evangelistic endeavors bring others to salvation. The Crown of Righteousness is for those who long for His appearing. The Crown of Life is for those who persevere under trial, and the Crown of Glory is for those who are shepherds of God’s flock, elders, preachers, teachers and mentors of the young.
It seems clear that to qualify for all these rewards our motives have to be expressions of gratitude to the Lord for what He’s done for us, and cannot be for the purpose of earning any sort of recognition, position or favor.