Revelation 22:11 (NIV) "See I am coming soon and my reward is with me to repay all according to their deeds."
Just last night I had a dream of working for a company where I had put in the 'more than required' level of effort and time. Actually, that is characteristic of who I am. I believe that when I do my best or give my best effort it will be more than expected. In this dream, the owner of the company had called a meeting and he was handing out recognition to each employee for the job they had done. When he called my name he handed me a different paper than the others. It not only applauded my hard work and over time, but it also highly recommended me for a higher position with better pay and benefits. I remember how excited I was and how glad I felt that I had went the extra mile so many times that others wouldn't - it had finally been recognized and rewarded.
When I came upon this verse today, I was quickly reminded of the dream from last night. I truly want to feel those same feelings when my Lord and Savior, Jesus returns and hands out His rewards according to our deeds. I do not want to be one of those who will wish they had given all they could or done all that was asked of them. Even though we are not saved by our works, obviously there are rewards connected for obeying God's commands.
I Samuel 15:22-23 (NIV) "But Samuel replied: "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king."
In this story, Saul was ordered by God to destroy the Amalekites, to leave nothing behind including animals. When Saul and his army went to battle, they decided it was a better idea to save the best of everything and not destroy it all. Of course God saw what happened and He spoke to the prophet Samuel to go tell Saul he would no longer remain king of Israel because of his disobedience. When Samuel confronted Saul about his actions, Saul defended what he had done claiming they had saved all of the best for sacrifices to God. That's when Samuel told him that God would rather have obedience than sacrifices.
Isn't this so common in how we seem to come up with a 'better idea'? I believe it's not original but just the trickery of Satan. Do you remember the approach he brought to Adam and Eve about eating the forbidden fruit? Genesis 3:1 (NIV) "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say, "You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" "You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." It would have been so much better if Adam and Eve had obeyed God's command instead of questioning His reasons for it. God knew that if they ate the fruit of that tree they would in deed know good and evil, but the only way they could know evil was to sin, which opened the door for evil to enter the earth. Satan is always working to cause us to question the goodness of God's character. He knows that if we don't believe God's commandments are based in what's best for us then we will rebel against Him. Just as a child may not believe its parent's instructions are for their good but believes they don't want them to enjoy life and have fun will rebel and do dangerous things.
I can still hear my mother's voice ringing in my ears so many times, "Did I not tell you to do....(whatever it was)?" Oh my, there was always punishment for diverting from her instructions, and rightly so! It made me be the person I am today. I raised my own children the same way, to honor my instructions. I taught them that there was reward in obedience and recompense in disobedience.
Not only do I believe that God's commandments are for our good but that there is reward for obedience and diligence. When Jesus returns I want to look at my reward and rejoice that I didn't hold anything back from obeying my Father God!