Chapter Ten

Life's Two Bank Accounts

The desire to be rewarded for one's labors and efforts is a proper expectation. Scripture declares that a person's right to benefit from his labors is a basic right of man. This right exists in regard to physical and spiritual labors.

Receiving rewards and benefits for physical labor has always been acknowledged by God as a rightful expectation. The law of Moses declared that the ox which treaded out grain was not to be muzzled (Deuteronomy 25:4). A common method for threshing ripe wheat and barley used an ox and a threshing floor. The ox which was tied to a pivoting pole walked in a continuous circle. Shocks of ripened grain were thrown in its path. The grain fell from the stalks as the ox walked on them. The law of Moses declared that the ox which did the work had a right to eat of the shocks. Paul referring to this same law said it was written to declare that every man had the right to benefit from his labors (I Corinthians 9:9, 10). Referring to the law again, Paul wrote, "The laborer is worthy of his hire" (I Timothy 5:18).

Those who serve the Lord as a livelihood have the same rightful expectation. The Old and New Testaments plainly teach those who use their lives in the work of the Lord have the right to be supported from their work. The priests were the primary laborers for the Lord among the Jews. The temple sacrifices constituted a large part of their livelihood. Aaron and his sons received the meal offering for food (Leviticus 6:16). The priest who offered the sin offering was to be given the meat for food (Leviticus 6:26). The priests and their sons ate the meat of the trespass offerings (Leviticus 7:6). The meat from the peace offerings and all heave-offerings belonged to the priests (Leviticus 7:32; Numbers 5:9), Other sacrifices which became the priests' property included these: wave offerings, the best of the oil, the best of the wine, the best of the grain and all first fruit offerings, and all first-born animals given to God (Numbers 18:8-20). This was the reason for these becoming the priests' property: "It is your reward in return for your service in the tent of meeting" (Numbers 18:31).

Paul, referring to this provision in the Mosaical system, declared, "Even so did the Lord ordain that they that proclaim the gospel should live of the gospel" (I Corinthians 9:14). Jesus forbade the disciples to carry any provisions when he sent them on the limited commission because, "The laborer is worthy of his food" (Matthew 10:10).

In the same manner, Christians have the right to be rewarded for their service to Christ. The anticipation of reward is not the sole reason for rendering spiritual service. Love for Christ, the appreciation of forgiveness, and gratitude for salvation are powerful reasons for serving. However, expectation of reward is an important motivation. The author of Hebrews stated that God's great people of the Old Testament made their sacrifices because they sought a better, heavenly country (Hebrews 11:15, 16). Jesus endured the shameful disgrace of the cross because of the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2). In every age God has rewarded His people.

There are two spiritual avenues through which God rewards His people. There are two realms of reward promised to those who serve the Lord. Those two realms of rewarding are material blessings and treasures in heaven.

Material Rewards
Consider the area of material blessings. Christians are promised material blessings. Peter quoting from Psalms 34:12 wrote, "For he that would love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. . ." (I Peter 3:10). Jesus said, ". . . Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall it be measured to you again" (Luke 6:38). Discussing the difficulty of the rich being saved, Jesus said, "And everyone that hath left houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life: (Matthew 19:29). Jesus' best known statement concerning material blessings is this: "Seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33).

These statements are not the promise of unlimited wealth or the promise of having everything one desires. Basically it is the promise that the material blessings a Christian receives will exceed the sacrifices he makes for Christ. However, one must be careful not to isolate these promises from Jesus' other declarations. Jesus often predicted that His disciples would face and endure sufferings, persecutions, sacrifices, rejection, and hatred.

The promise of material blessings is both definite and conditional. Society's acceptance of or rejection of Christians affects the extent they can be blessed materially. The extent of material prosperity is affected greatly by the age; times of persecution will not allow the prosperity of times of tolerance. Periods of material gain and material loss existed in the first-century church. Christians enjoyed material blessings produced by generous believers in the early Jerusalem church (Acts 2:44, 45). Many of those Christians likely lost everything when they fled the Jerusalem persecution (Acts 8:1-3). Evidence indicates that Christians at Corinth and Philippi were prosperous. Unquestionably, the church at Laodicea was prosperous. Yet, the Christians addressed in I Peter lived under different circumstances. Those to whom Hebrews 10:32-34 was written had suffered great material losses.

Though circumstances affect the extent of the blessings, God's people will receive material blessings. Those who serve and sacrifice for His glory can expect material rewards. In no age have Christians been blessed materially more richly than in this generation.

Heavenly Rewards
Consider treasures in heaven. Deeds done and sacrifices made for the Lord become treasures in heaven. Christians are assured that not one deed, not one sacrifice is pointless or made for nought. Sacrificial decisions made for the Lord shall be rewarded beyond imagination or measure. The certainty of heavenly rewards assures the Christian that no sacrifice, regardless of its nature or size, is ever meaningless or a loss.

Jesus referred to treasures in heaven a number of times. When the rich young man inquired of Jesus how to receive eternal life, Jesus declared he would have treasures in heaven if he sold his possessions, gave to the poor, and followed Him (Matthew 19:21). Jesus told a group,

Sell that which ye have, and give alms; make for yourselves purses which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where not thief draweth near, neither doth moth destroyeth (Luke 12:33).

Jesus' best know statement was made in the Sermon on the Mount:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21).

The Problem
These two reservoirs of reward pose a practical, everyday problem for every Christian. First, it is extremely difficult not to prefer overwhelmingly the material rewards. While all confess theoretically their preference should be the eternal rewards, most Christians also confess that material rewards tend to be their actual preference. It is a unique Christian who does not fight a daily war attempting to keep the reality of heavenly treasures equal to the realities of the material rewards. When facing an actual, sacrificial choice between heavenly treasure and immediate material benefit, he often finds the promise of heavenly treasures to be no more than a hollow sound.

Second, keeping one's thinking straight on a day-to-day basis is extremely difficult. The basis of the problem is not the evil of possessing. Material things are not evil, and possessing is not evil. There is no virtue in poverty for poverty's sake. The problem lies in one's obsession with possessions and with possessing. The evil exists in one's attitude toward possessions and in the power possessions have in his life. Evil exists in the attitudes of covetousness, lust for things, greed, envy, and jealousy. These attitudes form one of the most specific evils of life. They are among the most common evils in Christians today.

The problem is intensified by a lack of faith in the reality of heavenly treasures. Christians chide the rich young man for loving his possessions and shake their heads at the rich man who thought only of bigger barns and personal ease. Were they in similar situations, the majority would think exactly as the young man and rich farmer thought. Every Christian should understand the rich young man's problem. When he looked at his actual possessions and considered unseen heavenly treasures, he did not have faith enough to make heaven's treasures as real as his possessions. This inability to trust the reality of heavenly treasures plagues every Christian. Though the Lord promised them, in the privacy of one's mind heavenly treasures seem imaginary, indefinable, or highly questionable.

Third, Christians have the wrong attitude toward heavenly treasures. As an illustration, consider Christians who are examining a spiritual work which needs to be done but holds little promise of success. They commonly decide, "It would be a waste to time, accomplish nothing, and give us nothing to show for the effort." To know how many works clearly desired by God are rejected because Christians feel that they would be a profitless waste of time would be frightening. The beauty of treasures in heaven must be seen. When one does what Jesus wants done, regardless of the results, it is never a waste of time. It is impossible to receive nothing for any work which the Savior wishes done. Doing the works of the Lord generates treasures in heaven. Those treasures depend only on doing the Saviour's wishes with the proper mind and heart.

When Christians are taken advantage of as they serve the Lord, some will say, "Do something nice for people and see what happens! Act like the Lord wants, and people use you! I will never learn! I was taken again!" When one is abused as he serves the Lord, his viewing the situation as "having been taken" is destructive to his heart and faith. When "being taken" finally results in bitterness and resentment, he will cease acting as the Lord wants. Again, the beauty of treasures in heaven must be seen. If his attitude and heart are right, a Christian never loses as much as he gains when someone takes advantage of his godliness. When his godliness is unaffected by the abuse of his kindness, he increases the Lord's approval of his life. People may abuse him, but the Lord rewards him. People abused Jesus' kindness to the point of crucifixion, but God made Him King of kings and Lord of lords.

Sadly, a Christian's own spiritual family often opposes him as he seeks to be compassionate and serving. Many will say to him, "You are too kind to people! You let them take advantage of you! Get wise and be realistic!" This attitude is built on the belief that a Christian is a loser if people take advantage of his kindness. Treasures in heaven declare that nothing could be further from the truth. If he will be the finest Christian that he is capable of being, he is a winner regardless of the abuse he receives. The God whose eye is upon the sparrow will see even the smallest kindness, and that kindness becomes treasure in heaven. Treasures in heaven make it impossible to be too nice or too kind.

Acknowledging The Reality
How does one deposit treasures in heaven? Read 1 Timothy 6:17-19 and note Paul's simple explanation. Doing good, being rich in good works, and being generous builds treasures in heaven. According to the parable of the judgment, giving good to the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, aiding the stranger, clothing the naked, and visiting the sick and imprisoned become treasures in heaven (Matthew 25:31-46). It is life's simplest bank account in which to make a deposit.

The writer of Hebrews said, " . . .He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him" (Hebrews 11:6b). That is a sobering declaration. One cannot come to God unless he believes in God's ability to reward those who seek Him. Confidence in God's ability to reward is an essential part of acceptable faith.

A Christian consciously should carry two mental bank accounts. When he is prone to feel sorry for himself, to feel financially stressed, and to wonder how he will manage his material needs and commitments, he should examine his mental bankbook of God's material blessings. He should force himself to take time to think about the specific material blessings of his life. He will be amazed, ashamed, and unbelieving of all he has received. It will not end the war, but it will restore a proper perspective.

When his helpfulness produces no perceivable results, when his godly attitudes are abused, when his kindness is rebuffed with criticism, or when his labors produce little, he should examine his mental heavenly treasures bankbook. He examines this account only to remind himself he has made another deposit. He wants to be unable to forget that godly deeds are never wasted. He never, never wants to forget the reality of heavenly treasures.


  1. Deuteronomy 25:4 is the commandment not to muzzle the ox which treads out the grain.
    1. Explain the original commandment.
    2. What did Paul teach concerning this law in 1 Corinthians 9:9, 10?
    3. What did Paul say in 1 Timothy 5:18?
    4. What basic principle does all this teach?
  2. List the benefits the Jewish priests received in the Old Testament. Why were they given these benefits (Numbers 18:31)?
  3. What does 1 Corinthians 9:14 teach concerning those who proclaim the gospel?
  4. Does this same principle apply to all Christians? Explain your answer.
  5. What two specific realms of spiritual blessings exist for Christians?
  6. What promises are made or implied in the following passages:
    1. 1 Peter 3:10.
    2. Matthew 19:29.
    3. Matthew 6:33.
  7. How are the promises of material blessings conditional? Illustrate your answer.
  8. What are treasures in heaven? What assurance do they give?
  9. Discuss the following references concerning treasures in heaven:
    1. Matthew 19:21.
    2. Luke 12:33.
    3. Matthew 6:19-21.
  10. In regard to preferring material blessings, what is not the basis of the problem? What is the basis of the problem?
  11. Carefully explain the following statements:
    1. Because of treasures in heaven, one cannot "waste his time" by doing God's will.
    2. If someone takes advantage of a Christian, the Christian gains more than he loses because of treasures in heaven.
    3. Because of treasures in heaven, a Christian cannot be too nice or too kind.
  12. How are deposits made into heavenly treasures?

Thought Questions

  1. How can a Christian increase his desire for and preference for treasures in heaven?
  2. Why is the battle between the desire for material blessings and the desire for spiritual blessings a constant, everyday struggle?
  3. How can a Christian use the awareness of material blessings to strengthen himself spiritually?
  4. What is the most important lesson in this chapter?
transcribed by Donna Davis
Copyright © 1983, David Chadwell
Chapter Nine Chapter Eleven
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