The deceive-ness in being rewarded
As we grow up, we are usually trained to expect rewards. This could be from our parents, relatives or even teachers. We are constantly being told that if we do well we would be rewarded and if we do not do good, we would not get the reward. These rewards take different forms – chocolates, TV time and so on. As we grow older, things change but we still search for reward in most things we do. At school, we long for our teachers to tell that we are doing well, and commend us in front of the class. At work, it could be that we look up to our bosses or superiors for commendations or even promotions at times. In ministry too, we might be searching for the same in the form of titles or recognition from senior members of the ministry. Looking closely at this, we see this as intrinsic to our existence, that we link good work to being rewarded. However, the Lord in Mathew 6 brings out a different perspective and this is something that we would need to meditate on.
The Lord in Mathew 6 highlights three main pillars; prayer (Mt 6:5-15), outreach (Mt 6:1-4) and fasting (Mt 6:16-18) and then moves on to further strengthen us to not worry (Mt 6:25-35), and to store treasures in heaven (Mt 6:19-24). As we read the first three passages (Mt 6:1-18), the Lord indicates that we behave contradictory to what is engrained in us. Jesus repeats it – repeatedly reminding us to do things in private so that the heavenly father who sees what we do in secret might reward us.
Before going further, let us reflect a little more on this message. We realize that the Lord is asking us not to boast on what we do, but rather to allow it to be recognized by our Father in heaven who would reward us. We also realize that the Lord is challenging us to stop seeking acceptance and rewards from men, but rather focus our energy to do the right thing and our Father will reward us in His time. Unfortunately, with the challenging world that we live in and the way we have been taught to react, this teaching seems contradictory to what we need to do; to achieve.
Would it then mean that the Lord does not want us to achieve or win? On the contrary, what it actually means is that the Lord is telling us that if we get our reward from men, then we would have already received our reward and hence there would be no need for a reward from the Lord. What this would also mean is that if we search for reward from others, we could fall into the trap of being manipulated by others in order to achieve the reward.