Well Done, Good and Faithful Servant (Matthew Sermon 133 of 151)
August 01, 2010 | Andrew Davis
On July 15th, 1815, the defeated former Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, boarded the British warship, the HMS Bellerophon, and was being sent to his final earthly destination. He was being exiled to the tiny volcanic island of St. Helena, which is in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, 700 miles from the nearest landfall, several thousand miles from coastlines of Africa or South America, just in the middle of the ocean. This is a man that had thrown the world into turmoil for 20 years. He had led armies of over 600,000 men, he had won battles in Egypt and throughout Europe, and at one point controlled most of continental Europe. The Napoleonic Wars resulted in the deaths of perhaps as many as six million human beings. His soldiers were fanatically loyal to him, were willing to trudge across the bitter snows of Russia to win him an empire. As Napoleon was talking with the captain of the Bellerophon, the ship that would carry him to his exile, he was in a pensive and somewhat ironic mood. He reflected back over his amazing military career and the immense sacrifices that soldiers had made to win him an empire, and he uttered some famous words, "A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon." Medals of honor, medals of valor, medals of glory, medals of achievement, medals of bravery, medals of service. Napoleon said these motivate men more than just about anything he knew. Why is that? I think it's because inside each one of us is a yearning for glory and recognition, for honor and praise.
It is essentially idolatrous in the non-Christian because it's not connected in any way with the glory of God and faith in Jesus Christ and His kingdom. So, we might immediately try to distance ourselves from that drive to be praised, that drive for glory. But not so fast, dear friends. What are you going to do with the fact that most knowledgeable Christians if you ask them and say, "What is the one thing you'd want on Judgment Day?" It would be this, "To hear these words from Christ, 'Well done, good and faithful servant.'" Is it wrong to yearn for that? Is it wrong to yearn for praise from Jesus? Actually, amazingly, the Scripture says, not only is it not wrong, but we must also yearn for it. It's of the essence of the life that God has implanted in our hearts, in our souls. It's actually sinful not to yearn for it and long for it. Why do I say this? Can I back it up?
Yes. Romans Chapter 2:7-8 says, "To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, He will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking, who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger." Paul then describes the kind of life that leads to eternal life. It's a life that's characterized by, as he puts it, "Persistence in doing good, seeking glory, honor, and immortality." Clearly, since immortality is not something we seek for God, these are self-referential things. We want to be immortal, that is, we want to live forever. We also want glory and honor. According to Paul in Romans 2, "This and this alone is the only way to live your whole life. It is a life that God will richly reward by grace on Judgment Day." Today, we're going to zero in on the concept of eternal rewards, heavenly rewards for being good stewards of the grace that God has entrusted to us. In the context of this statement, this one verse, verse 21, also verse 23, same verse, is the parable of the talents that we looked at in detail last week.
Now by way of review, you've known the reading of the parable of the talents is rich and full. I said last week that in Matthew 25:14-15, the greatest single-focused verse or two verses on the essentials of stewardship, all of the basic ingredients of stewardship are there. You have a master who has authority and is the owner of all things. It says in verse 14, “it will be like a man going on a journey who called his servants and entrusted his property to them.” So, you have this master and he's the owner. You have servants who are owned by the master and are accountable to him. He's going on a journey, the master is going to be away for a key period of time, so the servants are going to be able to function without him visibly right there. His property, everything in the parable is his, it all belongs to him. The property is entrusted to the servant, is given over to the servant to be managed in the absence of the master. Then finally, there is accountability. The servants must give an account back to the master what they did with the things entrusted. These are the basic ingredients of stewardship.
Friends, we are all stewards, aren't we? Of so many things, so many rich blessings. I'm not going back through the parable, but you saw what happened. We have good stewardship on display with the one who had received the five talents; he goes at once, no procrastination, focuses on the talents and he gains five more. The one with the two talents, he gains the two more. But the one with the one talent, he goes off and he hides his master's money in the ground. The master comes back and settles accounts with these servants. The one with the five talents comes and he says, "Master, I put your five talents to work and look, I've gained five more,” And he hears these beautiful words, "Well done, you good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things. I'm going to put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master." The one with the two talents reports that he gained two more, and gets the exact same commendation, "Well done, good and faithful servant. You've been faithful with a few things, I'm going to put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master." Then that one with the one talent comes in and insults the master, not a good way to begin your Judgment Day encounter. "I know that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed, so I was afraid, and I went out and hid in the ground the talent you entrusted me. See, here is what belongs to you." The master replies, "You wicked, lazy servant. You know that I'm a hard man harvesting where I have not sown and gathering where I have not scattered seed. You should have put my money on deposit with the bankers. Then when I came back, I would have received it back with interest. Take that one talent away from him and give it to the one who has the five talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him." By the way, whoever does not have what? Whoever does not have increase. Whoever didn't put it to work and gain. In the kingdom of Christ, grow it, build it for the glory of God. If you don't have any increase, what you were entrusted is taken away. All of it taken away. "Throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." So that's the parable.
The Doctrine of Christian Rewards
Today we're going to focus in on verse 21, verse 23, this statement you've heard already a number of times this morning, "Well done, good and faithful servant." I want to talk about the doctrine of Christian rewards. First, I just want to lay the groundwork, doctrinally, so we understand biblically how to think about rewards. The first thing we must know, and we can't say it too often, we must know that we can never be justified by our good works. We can't say it too often, why? Because this is the number one competing religion in the world. It's all over the world, salvation by works. So, we have to be told over and over again, we are never going to be justified or vindicated or forgiven for our sins by any good thing we can do. We are not justified by works. We are justified by simple faith in Jesus Christ. Quite frankly, lost people, people who are dead in their transgressions and sins, they have no good works. Even if there were a system whereby, we could pay for our good works through our sins, through our good works, you would empty out your pockets on Judgment Day and find you didn't have a single one. Our works, good works apart from faith in Christ are actually corrupt because they're not done for the glory of God, but rather for the glory of man. It says in Romans 14:23, "Everything that does not come from faith is sin." Our good works are generally motivated by pride and self-focus, I feel good about myself, and I look good to others when I do good works, like the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The Pharisee stands up and prays about himself. Isn't that funny? Jesus said that he stands up and prays about his favorite topic, himself. "Here I am God to talk to you about me. I thank you, God, that I'm not like other men, robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even like this tax collector over here. I fast twice a week and I give a tenth of all I get." That's what it looks like when somebody does good works to be justified by them.
Therefore, the famous assessment in Isaiah of good works done by an unbeliever. is absolutely true. All their work for the United Way and for UNICEF and Habitat for Humanity and Walk for Hunger and cerebral palsy and all of that, all our righteous acts are like filthy rags in the sight of God. All of them, and these works cannot justify us. Therefore, we have no good works apart from Christ. "There is no one who does good, not even one," [Romans 3:12]. An unregenerate person cannot improve his or her status in God's sight one fraction of an inch by his good works. If you're here today and you're lost, if you don't know Jesus, and the rest of the sermon is going to be about rewards, just know this, if you stand before God on Judgment Day without Christ as your Savior, you will have no rewards, there will be none, nothing but wrath and anger for sin. So, I urge you to flee to Christ. Jesus shed His blood on the cross that you might have eternal life, and as we're going to find out in this message so much more than that. He is a richly generous master, but you must come to Him for forgiveness. Look to Christ, not to your own works. Look to His bloodshed on the cross. However, though we may not be justified by good works, the Bible teaches, and this is hard for Christian to understand, but the Bible teaches it, we will be assessed by our works. We're going to be judged by our works, assessed by them.
To know what kind of tree we are, there is a simple principle taught in the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew 7:16-20, "By their fruit, you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. And every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit, you will recognize them." As Jesus said in Matthew 12:33, "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is known by its fruit." By the way, only God can make a bad tree good. Thanks be to God, if He couldn't do that, this sermon would be a waste of everyone's time. There would be no rewards, but thanks be to God by his sovereign grace, He can make bad trees like you and me good and get some good fruit out of us. Isn't that good news?
The clear statements make it obvious. Our works will identify us, dear friends, not save us. They will tag us as believers in Jesus Christ. John 5, "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out. Those who have done good will rise to live, those who have done evil will rise to be condemned." Revelation 20, "I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, the death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done." Or as we already heard in Romans chapter 2, "God will give to each person according to what he has done. To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking, who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile, but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile, for God does not show favoritism."
We see this principle also in the parable of The Sheep and the Goats. He identifies them based on their works. He says to the sheep, to the righteous, to the redeemed, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father, take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick, and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." And then to the goats, He will say, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger, you did not invite me, and I needed clothes, you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." Again, works identified. James tells us how the mechanism works. James 2:18, "Someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.'" James says, "Show me your faith without deeds, I'll show you my faith by what I do." He says later, "As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead." Our righteous judge is going to look at the fruit of our lives, and He'll know whether we believed in Jesus or not. Good works cannot pay for our sinfulness, only faith in the blood of Jesus Christ can. But genuine saving faith always results in good works.
The Bible goes way beyond this though, on the issue of good works, not just identifying whether you're going to heaven or hell. This is the focus of the rest of our time. God is actually intending to reward you for good works. If you know anything about God and His holy perfection and about yourself and the nature of your works, that should stagger you back on your heels, that He would reward anything you ever did. It does to me, but it is true. Again, and again, this is taught in the Bible. The first time it's mentioned is in that incredible chapter, Genesis 15:1, “After this the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, 'Fear not, Abram, I am your shield, and I am your very great reward.'" Did you know that the New Testament mentions rewards 28 different times? Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount, "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven, in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who were before you." As a matter of fact, much of Matthew 6, Jesus devotes that section of the Sermon on the Mount to protecting your heavenly stash of rewards. "Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven." He is very zealous that you learn to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that your giving may be in secret and your Father sees what is done in secret and will reward you.
When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites out in the streets, but go into your room and close your door and pray to your Father who's unseen, and your Father who sees what is done in secret, he's going to reward you. And concerning fasting, be sure that no one knows that you're fasting. Put oil on your head and wash your face. So, it will not be obvious to men that you're fasting, but only to your Father who's in heaven, and your Father sees what is done in secret and will reward you.” Then He says, generally, about all of this, "Do not store up treasure on Earth where moth and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal but store up treasure in heaven where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is there, your heart will be also." What is it then you're storing up in heaven? That's the topic of our sermon here. You're storing up rewards. As a matter of fact, the rewards can go down to a small deed as in Matthew 10:42, "Giving a cup of cold water to a servant in Lord who's out on mission, and you just help him on his way." He says, "I tell you the truth, if you do that, you will never into eternity, lose your reward." The cup of cold-water reward. How did you like that one? I want the cup of cold-water reward. I'd like 100 cups of cold-water rewards.
It says that you will never lose your reward. Actually, God makes three very strong statements about rewards, all of them found in the Book of Hebrews. He says in Hebrews 11:6 that we must believe in rewards. “Without faith, he says, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” You've got to believe in rewards to be pleasing to God. Secondly, He says, we must desire the rewards that God has in store for us. In Hebrews 11:26, Moses regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as a greater value than all the treasures of Egypt because he was looking ahead to his reward. He's anticipating it. Just salivating for it, couldn't wait for it. It affects the way you live. Thirdly, He says it would actually be unjust for him not to reward us. That's staggering when you think about it, unjust. But it says in Hebrews 6:10, God is not unjust, He will not forget your works and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and as you continue to help.
The Bible also tells us that rewards are given to us by grace, dear friends, we cannot demand them, and we know we don't deserve them. To nail that in place, Jesus told a troublesome little parable. In Luke 17:7-10, “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing looking after the sheep. What do you say to the servant when he comes in from the field? Come along now. Sit down and eat. Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me. And after that, and then you may have your dinner.”? Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? Here comes the punchline, “So you also, after you have done everything you were commanded to do should say, we are unworthy servants, we have only done our duty.” You have to earn the right to say that. That's after you've done everything you were commanded to do. I don’t know if I can say "I did everything God wanted me to do today". But even if I could, I would say, “I’m only an unworthy servant, I've only done my duty.” These rewards are given to us by grace, we should just be staggered by all this. Christ shed His blood to cover our sins, but that's not all, He also gives us a fruitful life of service that's going to count for eternity. It's worthwhile, and He prepares good works in advance for us to walk in, and He prepares us to do those good works so that we are ready for them when they come. He moves in us by faith through the Holy Spirit when the time comes to actually do those good works, overcoming our own native selfishness and weakness. Then He rewards us for doing it. Isn't that incredible? How good is Jesus, how good is Jesus Christ for giving us these things? That's a doctrine of rewards.
The Nature of Heavenly Rewards
Praise from God as a Reward
Now, let's look at verse 21, and what I'm going to do with verse 21 is tell you what rewards you'll get. I'm going to break it into three types based on this one statement. Look at verse 21 again, his master said to him, "Well done, good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over a little. I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master". What three rewards can you find in here. First is praise from God. Do you see it? The second is greater responsibility from God, and the third is joy in God. Is that enough for you friends? I think it is. But just in case it might not be, let's elaborate a bit.
Let's look at the first one: praise from God. “Well done, you good and faithful servant.” That's praise of the servant's character, he's good and faithful. His master notes the character and praises him for what kind of a servant he is. “Well done, you good and faithful servant, you have been faithful over little.” That is his praise for the deeds done, for the actual work done, so the character of the servant and the work are both focus of praise. Notice the master's assessment, it was just a little. What Jesus did was great, it was infinite. What we do is a little, but God uses our little, doesn't he? He uses it for all eternity, so there it is, that's praise. Now, isn't it incredible that God, Almighty God, the one whose eyes are like blazing fire, will actually look at you and praise you? I mean, that's incredible to me, it's just amazing. God praising me? All of my biblical training is saying I should be praising Him. I should be giving Him praise and glory and honor. Friends, if you hear me saying, we don't need to be doing that, you have missed it. We are going to be praising him and giving him glory and honor. The essence of heavenly life is praise and worship focused on Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and all of the direction of the heavenly beings up there, all of those mysterious heavenly beings, all the angels and the living creatures and all that, it's totally God — God's centered, God-focused, God glorified, that's heaven.
Part of that is an instinct, rightly, to make little of the creature, we are just created beings. What is man that you're mindful of him? The essence of our time on Earth here, our sin on earth has been idolatry, and that's worshipping and serving created things, more than the Creator who's forever praised. That is idolatry, to give worship to a created being. However, God is not an idolater, is he? He's not making a mistake here, He's not forgetting himself and worshipping created beings, not at all. He can celebrate the attributes and the actions of a created being without worshipping that created being. Many times, actually in Scripture, God with unbridled joy, just celebrates something he's made, he talks about its attributes and its nature. There are great chapters on this at the end of Job. Remember when God's just celebrating all the stuff He's made, the stars, and the animals and all that sort of stuff, and basically putting Job in his place. Can you do this like I did? Can you do that? But in the middle of it all is you get a sense of God's joy in what He's made. Right from the beginning, God said in Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that He had made and behold it was very good. You have a sense, though it doesn't ascribe that statement to God, that God is saying it. “Look at what I've made. Isn't it beautiful? Isn't it good?”
At the end of Job 39, He talks about the horse, and He says, “Did you give the horse its strength? The way it loves to run into battle, the way it snorts, the way it's strong? What it does, can you do all that?” It's like God got carried away, like He's on a horse riding it, says “Isn't this awesome? The horse, what I made. Or what about the hawk or the eagle? Do you see where they live way up high, where the Eries are, way up high up in the rocky crag and how it sees its food from afar.” What is God doing? He's celebrating his creative beings. He does it even more clearly at the beginning of the entire book of Job, when He says to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? He is blameless and upright, a man who fears God, he lives a righteous life.” He's celebrating Job, a human being. Praise can be given to a created being without it being worship. We know this because God says He will do it for his servants who's serving by faith, He says it multiple times. As a matter of fact, Jesus criticizes His Jewish enemies, his adversaries, for not seeking praise from God, but rather praise from one another.
“How can you believe,” Jesus said, “If you accept praise from one another and yet you make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?” Back at the beginning of the sermon, I said that Napoleon said people are motivated by a yearning for praise and honor, God made that. He made it for Himself. You should be yearning to please Him so that He praises what you've done. Jesus says, when you're not focusing on God, you're going to focus in on another human being and you're going to live to please men and not God. Paul says if you do that, you're not really a Jew. A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly. No, a man's a Jew if he's one inwardly. Such a man's praise does not come from men, but from God. You've been weaned off praise from men, and you are focused on one thing, "I want God to praise me". The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:5, “Judge nothing before the appointed time. Wait until the Lord comes —the Second Coming of Christ, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts, and at that time, each will receive his praise from God.”
In 1 Corinthians 4:5, what we get is praise from God. This statement is a staggering one. John 12:26, says, “Whoever serves Me must follow Me, and where I am, there, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves Me.” Isn't that incredible? Praise from God is an immensely valuable reward. God is not an idolater, He's no flatterer, He only gives his praise wisely and perfectly. He will make no mistakes, his praise will not puff you up, it will not go to your head, it will not corrupt you. His praise means He is pleased with you and with your service. It is the consummation of the very thing that we should have been seeking all along. It says in Ephesians that we should find out what pleases the Lord. It says in Colossians 1, “We pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord, may please Him in every good work, bearing fruit in all good works.” When God says, "Well done, good and faithful servant", He's saying, “I am pleased with you. I'm pleased with your offering.” Our whole lives should go into gaining that honor and glory that God will give to faithful servants. It's like the honor and glory given to an Olympic athlete who wins the gold medal. That gold medal is a symbol of a lot of self-sacrifice of some extraordinary skill, and at the key moments when the time came to perform, winning that race or that contest and winning that gold medal. The medal itself means little other than the gold in it. Imagine if the factory that made the gold medals for the Beijing games happened to make a few extra and you could buy one at cost, 500 or 600, and then you could probably wear it to work, show all your friends. “This is an Olympic gold medal.” “Where did you get it?” “I Bought it.” “How did you buy it?” “Medalsforsale.com, you know?” “Oh, my goodness -worthless- and you're wearing it, that's even worse.” The thing is, it's symbolic of the relationship or the commitment or the scheme of the world community, that's the value of the Olympic gold medal, not the thing itself. What's amazing is that praise from God is going to last forever. I don't know how that works, but it's an eternal praise from God. They do it, says Paul, to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. I think it's going to be detailed praise from God for each good work done, every good work you do, every time you give to the needy, and don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Every time you go into your room and close the door and pray for a missionary, a brother and sister in Christ, somebody sick, somebody struggling, a marriage is struggling. You don't tell anybody, you weep for somebody that's lost, God sees it, He knows, and He will reward you. Praise from God.
Responsibility in Heaven as a Reward
Secondly, greater responsibility entrusted by God. “Well done, good and faithful servant, you've been faithful to a few things, now I'm going to put you in charge of many things.” The implication of this is just staggering, friends. Our lives here on Earth are an extended interview for our heavenly position. You are presently, right now, auditioning for the role you're going to play in that eternal play. If you want a bigger part, then live like it, friends. I think what happens is the more faithful we are, the greater our capacity for heavenly joy and love. There are actually going to be responsibilities in the new heaven, the new Earth. God is measuring our accountability with what we're doing with what He's given us now. Luke 16: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will be dishonest with much.” If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, then who would hand you true riches? If you've not been trustworthy with someone else's property now, who would give you property of your own? Do you want to know what true ownership is? It's what you get after Judgment Day. That's genuine ownership. Do you know how long you'll have that? Forever. He's going to entrust things to you, but He's testing you now to see if you're faithful with somebody else's property, namely God's. What are you doing with your money? Are you living for yourself when you get money? Do you think of what you can do with this to enhance your earthly situation, or are you thinking like a steward saying, “Lord, what do you want me to do with this money?”
There's also going to be responsibilities in the new Heaven, the new Earth, there's going to be jobs up there. This concept of authority structure is taught openly in the Parable of the 10 minas[money] which is a parallel parable here. In Luke 19 says, “The king sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, each person getting the same one mina, to find out what they had gained with it. The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned 10 more.’ ‘Well done, good servant’ his master replied, ‘because you have been trustworthy in a small matter, take charge of 10 cities’. Wow. Be in charge of 10 cities because of what you did. The one who had taken the one mina and got five, he's entrusted with five cities to rule and to be in charge of. The idea is powerful, the more faithful we were in this world, the more responsibility we're going to have in the next.
What kind of world is it we're heading toward? What's it going to be like in the new heaven, the new Earth? Randy Alcorn's book Heaven argues for hundreds of pages against the concept that we're going to be floating on some cloud strumming a harp. You're going to be busy. There's going to be things to do in Heaven, responsibilities. The new heaven, the new earth will be bustling, it will be a busy, productive, fascinating place in which there's growth and increase and development and authority structures and responsibility. Think about these words in Revelation 21, “the city, the New Jerusalem, does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light. The kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and the honor of the nations will be brought into it.” This sounds like the kings of the earth are bringing glory into the New Jerusalem, to say more than this is to indulge freely in speculation. You’re auditioning right now for your heavenly position.
Joy as a Heavenly Reward
Thirdly, enter into the joy of your Master, the joy of God. The third reward is an experience of joy. Joy is a powerful word in the happiness family, it is the most powerful happiness word, I think. It's profound happiness, a delight that's very difficult to capture in words, and notice the invitation: “Enter into the joy of your Master. Come on in, you who are on the outside, you lived on the outside of my joy, I want you to come inside to my joy now.” This is going to be full immersion joy, like diving into an endless sea of joy to have joy underneath you and all around you buoying you up.
and went to the most spectacularly beautiful place I've ever seen in my life, the Karakoram mountains, 20,000 feet high, plus the incredibly beautiful Hunza Valley, less than a day's ride from there. We came to this strange mountain lake that was incredibly salty. We swam in it and you couldn't go under the surface of the water. I felt like I had a big cork tied to my chest, you just couldn't sink, and I just picture a buoyant swim in a sea of joy, friends. There's going to be no depression, no discouragement, just happiness. This isn't just any joy; this is the happiness that comes from God. I think it comes in three senses. First of all, God's happy with what you did, just in the context that He gives the five talents and says, "I want you to know how happy I am with the talents, what you did. I want to celebrate my joy over your good work together, let's do it together. Let's go over it, let's sit down and watch a little video of what you did. We're going to share it together, and I'm going to tell you how I felt when you prayed or gave that money, etcetera." This is the joy of a father for you, his son or his daughter. Many sons have expressed that the central desire in their life is to make their father proud of them. To most sons, if it's not the central desire, it's important. Have your father put your arm around you after the game and say, "Win or lose, I was proud of what you did today. I saw what you did. Good job". I was watching an interview recently with Pete Sampras. He was talking about his different triumphs and different things that happened, and he said the most memorable championship he ever won was his last championship at Wimbledon, seventh championship. He won it seven times, but this one was different because his father was there to see it for the first time. His father had never gone to any of his major tennis matches. As soon as he won, he turned and looked right to his father, and he climbs up over and around and through people to get up there and embrace him. He wanted his parents' approval, and especially mentioned his father's approval. Perhaps you remember in 1980, after the men's hockey Olympic hockey team had defeated the Russians and went on to win the gold medal. Remember that picture of Jim Craig with the American flag around his shoulders, scanning the crowds, and you could see, you could read his lips. “Where's my father? Where's my father?” His mother was dead. He only wanted one thing, he didn't even care about Gold Medal at that point, “Where is my father?” He wanted to hug him and be with his father to share that moment together. What is heaven going to be like when your Father embraces you and says, I'm pleased with what you did there.” I think it would behoove you to have as many moments as possible like that with Him stored up. As many money giving opportunities and prayers up in secret and actions done and gospel shared, and fear overcome and everything you need to do to store up your Father's praise for you.
The second aspect of joy is God's joy in general. God is an incredibly joyous being. Did you know that? He's just happy. Scripture says, “You've made known to me the path of life, you'll fill me with joy in your presence with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” How about spending eternity sitting at the feet of the Joy Master? God says, "I'm going to teach you joy that you haven’t known before. I’m going to teach you how to be happy about everything.” Forever, you're going to learn joy of the increase of His kingdom, there will be no end. You're going to learn more joy after 1000 years than you knew in the first 1000 years. He's going to keep teaching you joy more and more because our God is in heaven. What does he do? Whatever pleases Him. He is a joyful being. 1 Timothy 1:15 speaks of the Gospel, the good news of the blessed God, which is the good news that God is happy. Aren't you glad? Would you want to spend eternity with a grumpy God? I want to go where there's happiness. I want to learn from God how to do general happiness for the rest of my life, I want to have eternal pleasures at His right hand.
The third aspect of joy is he's going to teach you to rejoice in everything he rejoices in, in detail. He's going to say, “Look at the New Jerusalem I made. Isn't it beautiful? I want you to look at this new Earth. Isn't it fantastic?” He's going to walk with you and he's going to teach you how to feel joy, and not only that, but he's going to teach you joy in his other children. He might say, "Do you realize what this individual did, this Martyr, this missionary, this evangelist, this Pastor, this servant? I love what happened with that, and I want you to enter into my joy in their achievements." Goodbye pride. Goodbye arrogance. Goodbye jealousy. Goodbye competition. It's all gone, He's going to teach you to delight in the widow who gave her two little coins and out-gave you. She’s already outgiven you, so she's already the number one giver, so you're going to take number two, maybe your number 20, but what's going to happen is you're going to rejoice in the widow's achievement as much as if it had been you. And why? Because the father's happy with it, that's going to band us together. We're going to celebrate. Some of you may be thinking, "Well, then what difference does it make if I’m going to be just as happy with other people's achievements... " Don't think like that.
It is to the glory of God for you to be a spiritual athlete and go after joy. I'm going to close now with Jonathan Edwards' resolution, by way of application. Jonathan Edwards, in his 22nd resolution said, “Resolved to endeavor to obtain for myself as much happiness in the other world as I possibly can, with all the power, might, vigor and vehemence, yea, even violence, I am capable of or can bring myself to exert in any way that can be thought of.” Okay, and if that's not plain, I just rephrase it a bit. In other words, I'm willing to fight and claw and struggle and suffer and strive and study and sacrifice and hurt and wear myself out, turn my back on any earthly pleasure to embrace any earthly hardship. I will do whatever I can to maximize my heavenly happiness. This is the essence of, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”