In this sixth and concluding article of the series on Life as a race and how we are all competing in it the focus is on the reward for taking part and reaching the finishing line in the race. Reward is one of the inevitable realities of life. Most endeavors of life have rewards of good or evil depending on performance. The Bible puts it bluntly: “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked; a man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7). Nature has built in it a reward and punishment components to most of our actions and undertakings and we stand at the receiving end of our actions. All those who compete in the race of life will receive a reward. The fifth article of the series on the Christian input to our understanding of life as a race made the following points:
In one real sense the Christian life is a race in which all Christians are running towards the finishing line. Every race requires serious commitment and discipline if one is to win. In training one has to stretch self to the limits. In most running races awards are given only to the first, second and perhaps third winners who reach the finishing line first, second and third places. The good news about the Christian race is that it is not about getting there first or how long one takes but that one does get there whether taking 80 years or 50 or 10 or even a day. “The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong or brave but he who endures to the end” (Ecclesiastes 11:9; Matt. 24:13).
The Christian input to our running in the race of life is for Christians to be true disciples of Jesus Christ by following the biblical teachings and principles and then they will run and win and be a shinning inspiration to others.
Running in the race of life faithfully and well is not in vain. Those who work hard, and are honest in their endeavors and truly serve God and others do get a reward for their faithfulness to duty however long it takes. The American philosopher, Ralph Waldow Emerson once wrote that if one can excel in any profession or trade and can preach a better sermon, write a better book and can make a better mouth strap than his neighbor then the world will make a beating path to his doors even if he lives in the woods. We don’t need to worry too much about rewards. What we need is to do our best and the rewards will inevitably follow. Generally in life those who sacrifice most while in school or training tend to do by far better in life than those who give up too quickly.
The Bible has a lot to teach us about God’s faithfulness in rewarding our faithfulness in doing what we ought to do. The writer of the letter of Hebrews says that God rewards those who are faithful (Hebrews 11:6). John writes in first John, “Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us; that we should be called children of God. That is what we are. It is not yet clear what we shall be but we know that we shall be like him; for we shall see him face to face” (1 John 3:1-2). Jesus himself speaks these words: “Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many… And when I go and prepare a place for you. I will come back and take you to myself so that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).
Paul the Apostle writes, “Be steadfast, immovable, always busy in the work of the Lord. For you know that in the Lord your labor is never in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Again Jesus promises: “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life” (Matthew 19:29-30). God does indeed reward faith and obedience. And the Bible says God is not man that he should lie; he does what he promises (Numbers 23:19). If we compete in any races of life and do well, giving our best in all fairness we will profit in the end. We will experience fulfillment for having done what is right and is required.