Adoption, Gifts and Rewards

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please Him (God) for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”

On October 13, I am going to be sharing my testimony and speaking on this verse at the Shine Ministries conference in St Louis. I am so excited.

In preparation, I have really been studying each word and that word REWARDS just keeps jumping out at me. I keep thinking, “So, if the wages of our sin is death (Romans 6:23), if to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due (Romans 4:4), then how does this all fit together? How am I to be rewarded if I really deserve death?”

The way I see it is this – the adoption piece is what’s missing. Our adoption in as sons and daughters is a gift. Our faith is a gift. Becoming children of the very real God, that’s a gift.

And yet, after becoming His children, He rewards us.

There are several Greek words that are translated as ‘reward’ but let’s focus on “misthos“.

This word is used in 1 Corinthians 3:14 “If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward (misthos).”

Or how about Matthew 10:42, “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward (misthos).”

And Matthew 5:11-12, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward (misthos) is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

One last one, 2 John 1:8, “Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward (misthos).”

I pray I haven’t lost you already, but do you see that each of these verses are promising a heavenly reward for the work that we have done on earth? This word misthos is translated as a REWARD.

But get this, look with me again at that amazing verse Romans 4:4, “Now to the one works, his wages (misthos) are not counted as a gift (charis) but as his due.”

Misthos is not only translated as reward, it is also translated as wages. This got me thinking — what really is a reward? Is it a gift?

Suddenly, I understood. A reward is not a gift. A reward is actually something you earn. Something you merit. Something you deserve.

I’ve won my share of awards over the years, and been rewarded with my share of plaques. Whether in debate or art contests or science fairs or school competitions (no sporting events, mind you) but every single time I have earned those prizes. I wasn’t just a spectator in the audience who was chosen at random.

In fact, just last week we went on a tour of the Memphis Metal Museum and I won this cool hook.


But this was my REWARD, my wages earned because the tour guide asked, “What are the three things a blacksmith needs?” And I shot my hand up in the air faster than anyone else and she chose me to answer and I got it right: a hammer, an anvil and a forge. And because of that work, I earned the reward of the very hook we had just watched the blacksmith create.

God is our good father who blesses His children with rewards for our deeds done in this life, in this body, but salvation is not one of those rewards. Salvation is a gift. Charis. Grace. Favor.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace (charis) you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift (doron) of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

I urge you to go grab your Bible right now and read Ephesians 2 in its entirety. You won’t be disappointed!

And if you’d like more on this topic, you might enjoy this article. (Click on that blue word. It’s a link.)

Maybe tomorrow we will dig into this new word, doron. Stay tuned.


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