Ephesians4:4-6,One hope of your calling:Eternal Reward, part 3.
Sunday January 10,2021
The Lord sets forth direct statements concerning future reward as well as the theme of reward of faithfulness in parables.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. 12 Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Rejoice because – reward will compensate for disadvantage. Matthew is not coy about rewards – 5:46; 6:1, 2, 5, 16; 10:41, 42.
“For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? 47 And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others [“how are you extraordinary]? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Whether the reward for being extraordinary is in time or eternity or both, is not mentioned.
The general statement is that you will have reward for loving as our Father loves.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; 2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.”
Reward for practicing righteousness from a desire for it – a thirst and hunger for righteousness that is satisfied, Mat 5:6.
The general principle in the plural in vs. 1 is then more specifically applied to the practice of the individual disciple.
Giving to the poor was an important part of Jewish life, as it was instructed in the Law (Deu 15:7-11). By the first century there was a well organized system of relief for the poor based on the synagogues; sort of a welfare system. The funding for this system depended on contributions from members of the community.
It is not likely that a literal blowing of trumpets was done when people wanted to announce their giving so that they would be “glorified’ (same word used in 5:16 – doxazo) by the community. Jesus is likely conjuring up an image of a blowing trumpet to signify their crass self-advertisement. Even the Lord did not self-advertise.
He will not cry out or raise His voice,
Nor make His voice heard in the street.
“When therefore you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing [total secrecy – a phrase seemingly original with Jesus] 4 that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
Later, in the Olivet Discourse, our Lord shows that the righteous are not fully aware of all the good they have done. There is great reward in having a heart like this.
Mat 25:37 … 40
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You drink? … to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'”
The same principle of secrecy also applies to prayer and fasting (sacrifice for the benefit of others).
And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
There is legitimate time for public prayer that others will hear, but what this is against is the desire to be recognized.
There is reward for desiring to give graciously and desiring to pray. There is a direct spiritual result from such hearts that is rewarding to their life, and that, beyond dreams.
“And whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance in order to be seen fasting by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face 18 so that you may not be seen fasting by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
There is reward for desiring private worship of God and doing whatever it takes to gain more of an understanding of Him.
“If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”
And I will always add that this is no call to asceticism for its own sake, in other words, giving yourself pain for the sake of being in pain. If we deny ourselves something that is lawful for us because we sincerely think it will open the eyes of our heart to a deeper understanding of God and better service of God, then that is the fasting that the Lord is getting at.
The fasting that God chooses – sacrifice for the betterment of others, Isa 58:3-12.
"Is it a fast like this which I choose, a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it for bowing one's head like a reed,
And for spreading out sackcloth and ashes as a bed?
Will you call this a fast, even an acceptable day to the Lord?
6 "Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free,
And break every yoke?
7 "Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry,
And bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
8 "Then your light will break out like the dawn,
And your recovery will speedily spring forth;
And your righteousness will go before you;
The glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 "Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
You will cry, and He will say, 'Here I am.' [sounds like a reward]
If you remove the yoke from your midst,
The pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
10 And if you give yourself to the hungry,
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness,
And your gloom will become like midday.
11 "And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
12 "And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins;
You will raise up the age-old foundations;
And you will be called the repairer of the breach,
The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.