Is Seeking Rewards For Soul Winning A Legitimate Motive?
Some time ago, I was discussing heavenly rewards for soul winning with a group of EE trainers. We got to a point where an EE trainer expressed the view that one should not only think of rewards. She was of the opinion that it would be selfish to be motivated by rewards when winning souls.
This short article deals with the question, “Is seeking rewards for soul-winning a legitimate motive?”
Firstly, we must understand that reward is the tangible expression of the approval of God. One cannot deny Him the pleasure of expressing that approval or say without insult that we reject the reward for ourselves.
He who despises a throne despises Him who confers the throne.
If I am pleased with any of my children’s conduct, behaviour and diligence, I will express my pleasure. This expression of pleasure is important to encourage that child. That child might even perform well just to please me. I will express that pleasure in a tangible way, to honour that child, to declare that I am pleased with that particular child. I make this specific expression so that my other children will be motivated to do the same thing. That tangible expression is the reward. In the case of my child, I can take her for a special meal, present some monetary gift or even present an overseas holiday trip.
The child accepts this gift and works for it because it is the tangible expression of the father’s pleasure. In the same way, we should gladly accept our heavenly Father’s reward for soul-winning because it is the tangible expression of His pleasure.
At Jesus’ baptism, the Father voice declared, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17 NIV)
Acknowledgements and affirmations like these spur us on to greater obedience and motivate us to greater acts of service and sacrifice.
Winning souls has eternal consequences and its benefits are both temporal and eternal. Down here we have peace and joy; up there a home in heaven. Therefore, “he who wins souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30). God’s pleasure with soul-winning is expressed in the reward He gives, i.e. “Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.” (Dan 12:3 NIV)
Additionally, the Pharisees’ were rebuked by Christ as follows, “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44)
Finally, reward is not only a motive in itself that is legitimate: it is a motive to which our Lord and His Apostles make frequent and direct appeal.
Christ – Matt 6:1 NIV
“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Paul – 1 Cor 9:24 NIV
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
Peter – 1 Pet 1:17 NIV
“Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.”
James – Jas 1:12 NIV
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
John – 2 Jn 8 NIV
“Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.”
“I believe for my part that we suffer terribly by the comparative neglect into which this side of Christian truth has fallen. Do you not think that it would make a difference to you if you really believed, and carried away with you in your thoughts, the thrilling consciousness that every act of the present was registered, and would tell, on the far side beyond?”
Dr. Alexander Maclaren
No wise disciple can afford to neglect so great a mass of Scripture or throw away so mighty an incentive to soul-winning. Our discovery of this truth at the Judgement Seat will be too late.
8 Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.