Don't seek rewards
Because I said so.
This was the way my father often responded to me as a teen on days when I felt wrongly justified in peppering him with a barrage of questions about why I had to do something. Some days, when I didn’t like what he said, I’d muster the courage to challenge my stern dad.
And he had no problem whatsoever explaining his sovereignty. His answer would most likely be one of two things—the first being, because I said so, and the second being, because I’m Daddy.
Well, there was no arguing with that.
On the rare occasions when I was feeling extra feisty, he’d shut me down with his favorite line: case closed! Dad was the judge and jury, and case closed was the way he’d verbally bang the gavel. There would be no back and forth after that.
Similar to my demand for answers from my natural father as a froward teen, there have been seasons when I wanted answers from my Heavenly Father. I have felt like I needed to know why I was going through something or when He would fix what was wrong.
In moments of frustration and fleshly weakness, I recall on numerous occasions when God has responded to me with Isaiah 45:9 NLT, which says, “What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’”
Since He is the Potter and I am but clay, I am constantly reminded that He does the molding and shaping. It is my job to remain malleable and pliable in His hands.
So in this 45th chapter of Isaiah, why did God deem it necessary to exert His sovereign will? It’s because He had chosen a pagan king, Cyrus II of Persia, to free the Jewish exiles from Babylonian captivity. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus would do this thing 150 years before it finally happened. It was also prophesied by Jeremiah. You can see the fulfillment of these prophecies in Ezra 1:1-4.
Some might find it baffling that God would use a pagan king to bring liberty to the captives known as God’s chosen people. Since God doesn’t take too kindly to being called on the carpet, He let it be known that He does what He wants to do when He gets ready to do it.
God even called Cyrus the “anointed one.” That is the Hebrew term mashiach or messiah. Talk about controversial!
How could a pagan be anointed to carry out the will of God? The Lord’s answer in Isaiah 45 was basically, I’m Daddy. I do what I please.
As I continued to look into why God chose Cyrus, I love what God says about him in verse 13: “I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions. He will restore my city and free my captive people—without seeking a reward! I, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”
Did you see that? He was going to do the will of God without seeking a reward.
Let’s all strive to be like that. Cyrus’s actions came out of pure obedience to the calling of God. And that’s what the Lord desires of all of us — that we seek to accomplish His will without seeking a reward.
That’s not to say we shouldn’t expect to reap rewards from our relationship with Jesus Christ. I talk about reaping a harvest all the time. We absolutely should anticipate blessings, breakthrough and favor. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God is “a rewarder of those that diligently seek Him.” James 1:17 also tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from above.”
God loves to bless His people, and He wants us to know that there are certainly benefits and advantages to serving Him.
The point is, our expectation of blessings cannot be the motivating factor when it comes to serving God. We should desire to please God and lay down our lives for Christ because He laid down His life for us. Our gratitude and desire to introduce others to the Savior must drive us to action.
To remind you not to be a reward-seeker, but rather, a seeker of the Rewarder, I’m stirring Matthew 6:33 NIV into your cup of inspiration, which says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
As you drink down the contents of your cup, ask God to purify your heart and mind. Pray that He will give you the desire, above all else, to seek His heart and not His hand.
Let the desire of His heart become your heart’s desire.
Now let’s pray.
God, please forgive me for all the times I have been too focused on reaping rewards and not enough on pleasing You out of a pure heart. Please create in me a clean heart and renew the right spirit within me. Instead of asking You for anything, let me take a moment to praise You for all You have done for me, for all the ways You have made, and for all the blessings You have poured out. Help me pour my life out as an offering of thanksgiving. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
As always, thanks for reading and until next time... may today's cup of inspiration uplift, encourage, and empower you!
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