“Whoever approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.”—HEB. 11:6.
SONGS: 136, 139
1, 2. (a) How are love and faith connected? (b) What questions will we consider?
WE LOVE Jehovah “because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) As one expression of his tender love, Jehovah has taken the initiative to bless his loyal servants. The more we love our God, the stronger our faith becomes, not only that he exists, but that he unfailingly rewards those whom he loves.—Read Hebrews 11:6.
2 Being a rewarder is an integral part of who Jehovah is and what he does. Our faith is not complete unless we are firmly convinced that God will reward those who earnestly seek him, for “faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for.” (Heb. 11:1) Yes, faith involves the certain expectation of God’s promised blessings. How, though, does the hope of a reward benefit us? How has Jehovah rewarded his servants, both in the past and in the present? Let us see.
JEHOVAH PROMISES TO BLESS HIS SERVANTS
3. What promise is found at Malachi 3:10?
3 Jehovah God has obligated himself to reward his faithful servants, so he invites us to reach out for his blessing. We read: “‘Test me out, please, . . .’ Jehovah of armies says, ‘to see whether I will not open to you the floodgates of the heavens and pour out on you a blessing until there is nothing lacking.’” (Mal. 3:10) We show our deep appreciation and gratitude when we accept Jehovah’s generous offer.
4. Why can we have confidence in Jesus’ assurance recorded at Matthew 6:33?
4 Jesus assured his disciples that if they would put the Kingdom first, God would support them. (Read Matthew 6:33.) The certainty of Jesus’ promise was based on Jehovah’s perfect record of trustworthiness. Jesus knew that God’s promises never fail. (Isa. 55:11) We, in turn, can be certain that if we manifest heartfelt faith in Jehovah, he will keep his promise: “I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you.” (Heb. 13:5) We can link that inspired statement with what Jesus said about seeking first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness.
5. Why is Jesus’ reply to Peter faith-strengthening?
5 The apostle Peter once asked Jesus: “We have left all things and followed you; what, then, will there be for us?” (Matt. 19:27) Instead of rebuking Peter for asking that question, Jesus told his disciples that they would be rewarded for their sacrifices. The faithful apostles and others will rule with him in heaven. But even now there are rewards. Jesus said: “Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands for the sake of my name will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit everlasting life.” (Matt. 19:29) His disciples would gain blessings far in excess of any personal sacrifices they might make. Are not spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and children much more valuable than anything we have renounced or given up for the sake of the Kingdom?
“AN ANCHOR FOR THE SOUL”
6. Why does Jehovah promise his worshippers a reward?
6 By promising his worshippers a reward, Jehovah helps to sustain them during tests of integrity. Besides enjoying rich spiritual blessings now, Jehovah God’s faithful servants eagerly look forward to even greater blessings in the future. (1 Tim. 4:8) Yes, our being firmly convinced that Jehovah “becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him” will help us to stand firm in the faith.—Heb. 11:6.
7. How does hope serve as an anchor?
7 In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Rejoice and be overjoyed, since your reward is great in the heavens, for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.” (Matt. 5:12) Aside from those who will receive a reward in heaven, the prospect of everlasting life on a paradise earth is indeed reason to “rejoice and be overjoyed.” (Ps. 37:11; Luke 18:30) Whether heavenly or earthly, our hope can serve as “an anchor for the soul, both sure and firm.” (Heb. 6:17-20) Just as an anchor keeps a ship steady during a storm, the sure hope of a reward can help us to maintain our emotional, mental, and spiritual stability. It can help us to have the strength to endure hardships.
8. How does hope have the power to reduce anxiety?
8 Our Bible-based hope has the power to reduce present anxiety. God’s promises act like spiritual balm that soothes our anxious heart. How comforting it is for us to ‘throw our burden on Jehovah,’ knowing that ‘he will sustain us’! (Ps. 55:22) We can have full confidence that God can do “more than superabundantly beyond all the things we ask or conceive.” (Eph. 3:20) Imagine that—not just abundantly and not superabundantly but “more than superabundantly”!
9. How sure can we be of Jehovah’s blessing?
9 To receive the reward, we need to exercise full faith in Jehovah and be obedient to his directions. Moses told the nation of Israel: “Jehovah will surely bless you in the land that Jehovah your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, but only if you strictly obey the voice of Jehovah your God and carefully observe all this commandment that I am giving you today. For Jehovah your God will bless you just as he has promised you.” (Deut. 15:4-6) Do you have full confidence that Jehovah will bless you if you continue to serve him faithfully? You certainly have good reason for such confidence.
JEHOVAH WAS THEIR REWARDER
10, 11. How did Jehovah reward Joseph?
10 The Bible was recorded for our benefit. It contains many accounts of how God did indeed reward faithful servants. (Rom. 15:4) Joseph was an outstanding example. As a result of a conspiracy by his brothers and the later treachery of his master’s wife, he found himself in an Egyptian prison. Was he cut off from his God? Not at all! “Jehovah continued with Joseph and kept showing loyal love to him . . . Jehovah was with Joseph and Jehovah made whatever he did successful.” (Gen. 39:21-23) Joseph, through those trialsome times, waited patiently on his God.
11 Years later, Pharaoh released Joseph from prison and made this humble slave second ruler in Egypt. (Gen. 41:1, 37-43) When his wife bore him two sons, “Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, for he said, ‘God has made me forget all my trouble and all the house of my father.’ And he named the second one Ephraim, for he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.’” (Gen. 41:51, 52) Because Joseph remained loyal to God, he was rewarded with blessings that resulted in the preservation of life both for the Israelites and for the Egyptians. The point is, Joseph recognized that it was Jehovah who had rewarded him and blessed him.—Gen. 45:5-9.
12. How did Jesus remain faithful when under trial?
12 Jesus Christ likewise remained obedient to God through various tests of his faith, and he was rewarded. What helped him to cope? God’s Word explains: “For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame.” (Heb. 12:2) Jesus certainly found joy in being able to sanctify God’s name. Furthermore, he was rewarded with his Father’s approval and many wonderful privileges. The Bible reports that he “has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” And elsewhere we read: “God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name.”—Phil. 2:9.
JEHOVAH DOES NOT FORGET WHAT WE DO
13, 14. How does Jehovah feel about what we do for him?
13 We can be sure that Jehovah appreciates every effort that we make to serve him. He understands any insecurities or self-doubts that we may have. He shows us compassion if financial burdens weigh us down or our health or emotions tend to limit our sacred service. And we can have full confidence in Jehovah’s tender regard for what his servants do to stay faithful to him.—Read Hebrews 6:10, 11.
14 Bear in mind, too, that we can approach the “Hearer of prayer” with the confidence that he will give attention to our concerns. (Ps. 65:2) “The Father of tender mercies and the God of all comfort” will unstintingly give us the emotional and spiritual support that we need, perhaps doing so by means of our fellow worshippers. (2 Cor. 1:3) It touches Jehovah’s heart when we show compassion toward others. “The one showing favor to the lowly is lending to Jehovah, and He will repay him for what he does.” (Prov. 19:17; Matt. 6:3, 4) Hence, when we unselfishly help those who are in difficulty, Jehovah views our good deed as a loan made to Him. And he promises to reward that kindness.
REWARDS NOW AND FOREVER
15. What rewards do you look forward to? (See opening picture.)
15 Spirit-anointed Christians are sustained by the prospect of receiving “the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give . . . as a reward in that day.” (2 Tim. 4:7, 8) You will, however, not be shortchanged if God has given you a different prospect. Millions of Jesus’ “other sheep” eagerly anticipate the future reward of everlasting life on a paradise earth. There “they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—John 10:16; Ps. 37:11.
16. What comfort do we find at 1 John 3:19, 20?
16 At times, we may feel that we are accomplishing little, or we might wonder whether Jehovah is pleased with our efforts. We may even doubt that we qualify to receive any kind of reward. Let us never forget, though, that “God is greater than our hearts and knows all things.” (Read 1 John 3:19, 20.) He rewards every expression of sacred service that springs from a heart motivated by faith and love, no matter how insignificant it might seem to the giver of the sacrifice.—Mark 12:41-44.
17. What are some of the rewards that we enjoy now?
17 Even in these dark last days of Satan’s wicked system of things, Jehovah is blessing his people. He makes sure that true worshippers flourish in their spiritual estate, which is unprecedented in its spiritual abundance. (Isa. 54:13) As Jesus promised, Jehovah rewards us now by letting us be part of a loving family of spiritual brothers and sisters, a family that is international in scope. (Mark 10:29, 30) Furthermore, those who earnestly seek God are rewarded with the incomparable blessings of peace of mind, contentment, and happiness.—Phil. 4:4-7.
18, 19. How do Jehovah’s servants feel about the rewards they receive?
18 Jehovah’s servants around the world can testify to the wonderful rewards they receive from him. For example, Bianca from Germany says: “I cannot thank Jehovah enough for helping me with my worries and for being at my side each day. The world out there is chaotic and bleak. But as I work closely with Jehovah, I feel secure in his arms. Whenever I make personal sacrifices for him, he gives me back a hundredfold in blessings.”
19 Or consider 70-year-old Paula in Canada who is severely restricted by spina bifida. “Reduced mobility does not necessarily mean a reduced ministry,” she says. “I take advantage of different forms of service, such as telephone and informal witnessing. For my own encouragement, I keep a notebook with scriptures and thoughts from our publications that I can consult from time to time. I call it ‘My Survival Notebook.’ Discouragement is temporary if we focus on Jehovah’s promises. Jehovah is always there to help us, regardless of our circumstances.” Your situation may be quite different from that of Bianca or of Paula. Yet, you can likely think of ways in which Jehovah has rewarded you and those around you. How good it is to reflect on how Jehovah is rewarding you at this time and how he will reward you in the future!
20. What can we look forward to if we continue to serve Jehovah whole-souled?
20 Never forget that your heartfelt prayers and freeness of speech with God “will be richly rewarded.” You can be certain that “after you have done the will of God, you [will] receive the fulfillment of the promise.” (Heb. 10:35, 36) So let us now continue to strengthen our faith and to work whole-souled as to Jehovah. We can do this, knowing that it is from Jehovah that we will receive the due reward.—Read Colossians 3:23, 24.