Does God give out white, red and blue ribbons? Or, does everyone in heaven get the same orange “Participant” ribbon? We all know that Jesus gets the big purple “Best of the Show” ribbon, but what about the rest of us?
He that cometh to God must believe that he is,
and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Why does it say “diligently”? An honest Sinner’s Prayer will bring anyone under the atoning blood of Jesus. Is that reward enough? Yes, if all you want is “fire insurance.” An honest sinner’s prayer requires honesty, but not necessarily diligence. Are there rewards beyond a welcome at the Pearly Gate?
Let’s talk about love.
The weight of guilt suddenly rolls off your back. Your soul is flooded with peace, relief. Joy bubbles up from deep within overflowing on your face and upon everyone around you. That honest sinner’s prayer is just the beginning. Your heart glows for the One who set you free. He is the One who gives you this flood of peace and overflowing joy. You never want to leave Him. You never want to separate from this experience. Who is doing this for you? Jesus, and you love Him because He loves you.
It is the honest sinner’s prayer that starts this wonderful experience of relief from the weight of guilt on your back.
An opportunity appears for some self-advantage. It requires nudging past someone else. You tell yourself the advantage is worth it. You deserve it more than Smithy. You make your move, and Smithy loses.
You barely notice the dry breeze that wafts across your face. The excitement of your advantage covers the missing bubbles of joy. Slowly, your back is feeling heavier. It’s harder to look up.
One day you remember your overflowing joy and wonder what happened.
Think about it. Can you remember the last time you experienced that peace, that relief? The weight came back to your back.
How can you return to your first love? You will find Him in the same place you found Him before, bubbling up from an honest sinner’s prayer.
The weight of guilt on your back is a tool. It functions the same as the nerves in your finger that feel the heat of a stove and cause you to jump back. You can suppress the guilt, ignore it, tell yourself that Jesus has carried your guiltiness, that God doesn’t look upon your guilt because He accepts Jesus in your stead.
Yeah, you can shoot Novocain into your finger too. Then you won’t feel the hot burner on the stove. You can hold your finger on the burner all day long, and you won’t feel the flesh burning off down to the bone. Is that a good thing? Let’s not feel the pain!
Guilt is a tool. It weighs down our backs until we return to God in honest repentance. God’s forgiveness is not Novocain to numb our conscience from the pain of guilt. God’s forgiveness wipes the soul clean, really clean. There is no guilt in a clean soul.
That’s what you experienced the first time. And you can have it again.
Now, about those rewards…
Jesus answered and said unto him,
If a man love me, he will keep my words.
God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. God rewards our diligence. A diligent student will turn in all his homework assignments on time and study before a test. A diligent athlete will show up at every practice, never be late for a game, and work out to increase muscle strength. We know what diligence is.
What does diligently seeking God look like? Like the student, we will do the homework assignments of keeping His words. We will study the scriptures for our tests and trials. Like the athlete, we will show up for practice by assembling with like-minded believers. We will not be absent when someone needs our help. We will work out with practical applications of our faith.
Does this description of diligence seem worthy of a reward? It’s not really the doing that brings the reward. It’s the love, the love that lays its life down for a friend.
Greater love hath no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends.
The thing is, that unless we practice our faith diligently, when the test comes, we will choose self-advantage over laying down our lives every time.
Jesus laid down His life for us. We are called to lay down our lives for others. Jesus has a name above every name. He alone gets the purple ribbon. As we follow Him diligently, we will receive our reward. Yes, He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. God rewards our love.
He loves us. Will we love Him?
Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us:
and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
1 John 3:16