Grace, Works, and Rewards

Ephesians 6:8   (KJV)   8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.

Even in and under the age of grace, the Lord still operates in a reward system. Doing good still has its merits and blessings. All of us are still affected by this divinely ordained principle, system, or design.

Ephesians 6.8 - Grace, Works, and RewardsWhoever we are and whatever our status is in society, we live in the assurance that our God Who is gracious is also God who is fair and just. He won’t shortchange us. God compensates our life of loving faithfulness. He doesn’t have favoritism; it’s because (I personally take it as) we’re all His favorites.

We find delight in pleasing our Master, and He returns the favor in an inestimably gracious way. That’s why I understand that there’s no contradiction between grace and rewards. God values our good works, He rewards them, and His rewards are incalculably more gracious than what our works deserve. This is clear in the principle of sowing and reaping; in general, what we reap is always multiplied times more than what we sow.

This is why we so willingly, lovingly, diligently, and enthusiastically serve the Lord and others. Although His rewards aren’t our prime motivation, we believe the truth about it. They’re real; they come; we gratefully receive them, we enjoy them; and we know there’s a lot more of them. Praise God.

Vengeance isn’t Ours

1 Samuel 24:12   (KJV)   12 The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee: but mine hand shall not be upon thee.

We can trust God’s justice; justice will be served, either here or in eternity.  Vengeance on our part is non-negotiable; vengeance belongs to the Lord; it’s never ours to exact.  To not see justice right away doesn’t mean it won’t happen. True, even our very own justice 1 Samuel 24.12 - Vengeance isn't Ourssystem—even those who do their best, even those who really approach it without biases—make mistakes. God’s justice makes sense of His call for us to love our enemies and be good to those who wrong us.

We’ve heard it repeatedly: “Life’s unfair.” There’s truth in that statement, if this is all there is in life, if there’s no existence beyond earth, if there’s no Sovereign Ruler Who will judge everyone someday. Sometimes we see His justice executed right away with our very own eyes; sometimes, He seems so quiet. But we rest assured in the fact that it’s not over until He says it’s over, until He gives His last Word.

We don’t want to personally avenge ourselves and hurt people; that’s not a prerogative left to us, and understandably so. Why? It’s because most often, we don’t really aim for justice, we want to do worst. Besides, we don’t know all the factors at play. We don’t really know the entire motivation, the details of the situation, weight of the temptations and provocations.  God alone can be trusted of perfect justice. For now, we act and react the way He tells us to: with love and mercy. With those, we can never go wrong.

God’s Greater Glory

Exodus 14:4   (KJV)   4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord. And they did so.

A continuing and increasing indifference, hostility, or attacks against us can be God’s way of showing His glory in a more emphatic or obvious way. The unjust treatments we experience always turn out for the good. That’s a promise that puts all our experiences in exodus-14-4-gods-greater-glorythe proper light. All things work together for the good of those who love Him—we who are the called according to His purpose; they all work together for His glory, and for its greater display.

This may sound easier said than believed or acted on, but it does us very well when we do. There may come situations when it seems like we’re pushed farther in a tight corner, or between a rock and a hard place, or between a sea and an invading army. Our predicament may look confusing; we may feel like we don’t have a way of escape. But we understand that it’s in those moments when we see the miraculous powerful hands of the Lord scoop us into safety.

Not all situations are the same; some are harder than the other. In the natural, there may be no possible way for us to win the battle or to even escape alive—to survive. Others who find themselves in the same situation as ours murmur, complain, or compromise. But God fights on the side of those who are on His side. And it’s in our deliverance from our most horrible predicaments that others recognize God’s wondrous intervention. In our worst experiences, we find joy and comfort in knowing that a greater revelation of our God’s greatness and goodness is about to unfold, and we get to know Him even more.

Song of Justice

Revelation 5:9   (KJV)   9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation

What has become almost a slogan to us and the local church I go to are these words: “There’s no life better than that of a believer.” At times others may wonder: how can that be true? Believers are objects of ridicule, rejection, attacks, torture, and even death. This is true for believers—whatever part of the world we find ourselves in. We don’t deny this; in revelation-5-9-song-of-justicefact, the more real the persecutions are, the more we see the comforting truth in that slogan. Despite all the sufferings unique to being God’s people, we still wonderfully enjoy a life of love, joy, peace, power, and freedom.

Who else enjoys that kind of reality? Where else do we find that? For many others, when they suffer, they don’t see life in a good light. But we believers still surprisingly do. Sheep among wolves and being enemies of the world where we’re operating isn’t a pretty picture seen from common eyes. We’re fully aware of that, but we know that the glory that awaits us is superbly and inestimably much greater than the sufferings we’re undergoing right now.

In the natural eyes, we look weird—even crazy. We love our enemies; we bless those who curse us; we pray for those who persecute us; we don’t rejoice in the misfortunes of those who attack us. It’s not that those of God are void of any sense of justice; we are. That’s why there’s singing in the presence of God for the worthiness of our Lord Jesus to break the seals and open the scroll. These things are associated with judgments. Why the singing? Praise God; we who unjustly suffer here on earth for being a part of His redeemed are spared from these horrendous judgments. This is the time of our much awaited vindication. In fact, this is the time when the meek, gentle-hearted martyrs will pray for vengeance—and that desire and action is welcomed.

We excitedly look forward to that day. Our precious Lord Jesus will be revealed in His awesome splendor and glory. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess—even His enemies—that our Lord is Lord. They have to; it will be very obvious. Judgments will be poured out, but not to the blood-bought saints. No, we won’t be suffering then: no more sorrow, tears, sickness, pain, death; we will be rejoicing.

God’s Prerogative

Matthew 20:15   (KJV)   15 Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?

God is sovereign, meaning, He is absolutely powerful, absolutely free, and is absolutely in control of all situations. He can do whatever He wants to do. Although we’re free to question Him—how he does things, why He does things; our questioning only helps matthew-20-15-divine-prerogativeperhaps in letting out our steam; but it doesn’t really hold ground because He knows best. And even when He reveals His motivations and actions to us, there’s really no guarantee that our finite minds understand.

God has full prerogative, authority, and right to do things His way. Praise God. He doesn’t need to consult anyone or ask permission from anyone. He owns everything; He does whatever He wants to do with His possessions. That’s comforting because contributions from us won’t help perfect what’s already perfect; we can’t improve on Him. Yet, you know what’s interesting? If we would humbly admit: we have questioned God so many times—directly and/or indirectly.

There are many situations when we would have done things very differently. Would we really forgive others 70 x 7? Would we really love our enemies? Would we really turn our other cheek—not for another kiss but another slap? Would we really not exact vengeance? Would we really rather serve than be served?—Most probably not. Isn’t it true that even now when we already know our wise God’s instructions for best and most blessed living, we still find ourselves many times wanting to do the opposite?

Thank You Lord for doing what you do. There’s no other way. Everything you do stems from your love, grace, kindness, goodness, mercy, justice, patience, wisdom, and beauty—always the best, from the Best, for our best. We prefer no other way.

Of Prayer, Persistence, and Justice

Luke 18:7   (KJV)   7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?

Praise God; He is just and He loves His people. He listens to His children when they pray, and He responds to their prayers. He answers right away, and His answers vary. There are times when He says yes, right now; there are times when He says yes, wait; there are times luke-18-7-of-prayer-persistence-and-justice-2when He says yes, but you need to keep knocking; there are times when He says no, point blank; there are times when He says no, I’ll give you something better. Whatever His response is; we’re sure it’s the best, and it’s for our best.

Clearly, when it comes to justice, our precious Lord Jesus is very clear that it’s our Father’s desire that we’ll be vindicated against those who treat us unjustly. We may have many and different reasons why He designed it in such a way that we ought to pray. God sovereignly pours out innumerable blessings we don’t pray for; we’re not even aware about many of them. But there are some things we pray for; there are some things we pray for—persistently. Interestingly, God sees and values our persistence; God responds favorably when we don’t give up; He grants us justice, and He does it quickly.

This is easy to understand because our God—the One true God—is just; He can’t act inconsistent to that. Our Lord Jesus pointed out that even judges who don’t fear God take action as a response to a person who persistently bugs them. How much more Him? He assures us; He will avenge us. The condition: we cry day and night to Him. When we do; justice comes fast. Obviously, praying for justice is a godly thing to do. This is a call to us as believers. Our life is about faith. We live by faith; not by sight, or feeling, or situations. When He comes, He will be pleased to see His children’s life of faith. And one of faith-life’s greatest expressions is persistence in prayer, especially regarding justice. Yes, we are at times treated unjustly; yes, we don’t take vengeance, but yes, we pray for justice—persistently.

God is Good

Psalm 111:7   (KJV)   7 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure.

“God is good all the time, and all the time, God is good.” There’s nothing evil about Him; He is good, and all He does is good. His commandments are good and they’re for our good. Contrary to what a lot of people feel and think, they’re not there to deprive us of fun and excitement. God isn’t some kind of hpsalm-111-7-god-is-good-2eavenly “kill-joy” who delights in our misery. It’s the other way around. He desires our joy. He’s given us everything for life, godliness, and enjoyment.

Some people accuse God of being unfair. Not so. The truth is, His justice is “uncorrupted” and incorruptible. No one can bribe God. That’s the reason why we can trust Him when He tells us not to retaliate when we’re wronged. When He says “Vengeance is mine,” we can let go of any desire and plan to personally exact vengeance and we can rest in His promise. We don’t have to live in anger and hurt. No one ultimately gets away with anything. Every wrong will be paid. As for accusations that God is cruel for not stopping evil, disasters, and pain; the truth is: it’s because He’s so good that He allows us to continue living. Remember, we factor in this evil and pain. For Him to terminate evil completely means He has to terminate all its causes. Sadly, we play a big part in causing evil and pain. But in His time, He will do it; He will eliminate evil completely.

At times, people who wrong us prosper. In the eyes of the world, they’re successful. There are times we get victimized and we suffer because of unjust treatments. Where’s the goodness and justice of God in all this? It’s there, and it’s absolutely intact. There is a payday someday when everything will be exposed, and everyone will be held accountable. Because God is good, because God is just, because His commandments are pure and true, we live joyfully yielded to Him. He takes good care of us. And even in those areas where we’re guilty: sins we have to give account for, sins we have to pay; we can have peace knowing that in God’s goodness and justice, He paid a full ransom for everything we owe. Bless You Lord!!!