Okay, this is a word association test! Fruit salad. What did you think of? Well, it depends whether or not you've been in the military. You see, if you haven't been in the military, you probably thought of some little pieces of apple, or melon, in a bowl together - but if you've been in the military you may have found something far less edible than that. We just called a Desert Storm veteran and I did that with him. I said, "What do you think of when I say "fruit salad"? He said, "Oh, ribbons and medals." That's right! To the military it's all those medals - that kind of "fruit salad" matters a lot to people in the military. They are the record that all the world can see in your achievements, in your service to your country. When one of America's top military leaders committed suicide, it was believed that a controversy over his medals may have contributed to that tragedy. He was wearing a medal that was only supposed to be worn by those who have been in direct combat contact. His wartime service on a ship didn't qualify according to his critics. When you've served your country, your service awards are serious business. There are some soon-to-be-issued awards that will go to some very surprising, and surprised people.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Combat Medals."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Hey, God says rewards for service are coming. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 3:8 He says, "...each will be rewarded according to his own labor." But God's eternal medals are awarded on a basis that's very different from men's. You see, God rewards effort, not result. "Well done good and faithful," not good and successful, "servant." It is required in God's terms that they be found faithful, it says. He wants to know if you did what He had you to do with all your heart, whether it was big or small. People here may have considered you a loser because you didn't get a successful result - but the One you report to for all eternity says it's your total effort that matters. So a lot of people who have been earth losers are going to be Heaven's winners!
Maybe you say, "Well, I've never been in any real combat for the Lord. I pray for the people who are on the front lines, I give support to them, I volunteer to help with some little jobs in the ministry." Hey, are you in for a surprise when the medals are given out!
There is a principal drawn from an Old Testament battle situation in 1 Samuel 30:22, the men who fought with David said, "Because (these people here) did not go out with us, we will not share with them the plunder." Wrong! "David said, 'The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.'" You see, your part may be behind the scenes, seemingly unimportant, but God says you're a combat hero as much as the person who is actually out there preaching or teaching or leading. Again, some surprising and surprised people are going to be getting some incredible service awards.
There is another surprising aspect of God's medals. They are widely disproportionate to what we actually did. He says, "You have been faithful in a few things, I will make you ruler over many things." Paid off for serving Jesus faithfully is so much greater than the pay out! If you feel like giving it up right now, stay with it. It's worth it!
The important thing to remember is who you are doing these things for, who is the commanding officer? It is the Lord Christ you are serving! Not the church, the organization, the human leader, even the people you are trying to help. They may or may not give you the appreciation you deserve, but do it for Jesus. He will never let you down. The service awards are coming! Work with all your heart for General Jesus and prepare yourself for a lot of exciting, eternal surprises the day Christ gives His awards.