Monday, April 20, 2009
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So your boss calls you in - it could be good news, it could be bad news. You've probably had some of each, right? But the best good news is probably words like these: "We're giving you a raise." You're trying to be cool. You try not to leap out of your chair yelling, "Yes!", but face it, it really is good news. They will usually give you the reason you're getting a raise, or maybe a bonus: your performance, your longevity, your additional responsibilities, you're married to the boss's daughter.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "What God Gives Bonuses For."
So what does the boss, I mean The Boss, base His rewards on? It's not performance, or longevity, or additional responsibilities, at least according to our word for today from the Word of God.
After David's many ups and downs, his years of being a leader for the Lord, he sums up what he has learned about the one thing that impresses God. He recorded it for us in Psalm 18:20-24. "The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands He has rewarded me."
David goes on to explain what "righteousness" and "cleanness" involve, "For I have kept the ways of the Lord; I have not done evil by turning away from my God. All His laws are before me; I have not turned away from His decrees ... I have kept myself from sin." And just in case we missed it the first time, he says again: "The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in His sight."
Well, there it is. God blesses and rewards us for something that human authorities may care little about: whether or not we are keeping away from sin and whether or not we are keeping God's ways. God isn't impressed by how hard you're working, how skillful you are, the results you're getting, the number of people who think you're the best, how much experience you have, the numbers you've got to show. No, it's your cleanness that God's looking for.
God gives His best to those who are passionate about being pure; who are aggressively cleaning out their remaining dirty closets, not content with just status quo holiness. The Lord rewards you because you always do what you do by the book - His Book, the Bible - from how you handle the money, to how you handle your problems, to how you handle people. He's looking for stubborn integrity. He's looking for a zero tolerance for sin and compromise in your life; a desire to be, as one great preacher said, "as holy a person as a redeemed sinner can be."
We can't earn our relationship with God. Heaven is based on us trusting completely in the work that Jesus did on the cross. But God's rewards in heaven, but also here on earth, are based on how we live. And He's got His eye on you. He has some wonderful life-bonuses He wants to give you. But He's a holy God. He can only reward holiness.
Make that the goal you strive for, to be totally His man or His woman. Because if God is impressed with you, you are unlocking heaven's blessing gate, which is bolted on our side, not His. He's looking for someone after His own holy heart. Or, in God's own words, "The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him" (2 Chronicles 16:9).