A Sure Reward for Faithfulness
“The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward. Whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live, but he who pursues evil will die.” (Proverbs 11:18-19)
When I served in Africa, I was impressed with many African Christian adults who thanked God for another day of life every time we prayed together. Unfortunately I started taking it for granted, unless things were particularly difficult. The prayer, in fact, expresses deep trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness when life is particularly difficult. Now I find myself thinking about and thanking God for another day of life, particularly this day that will never again occur in the history of the world. Some days I need a challenge to lethargy and complacency until my first meeting or appointment. Left on my own I tend to get too comfortable and take God for granted.
Perhaps that is why I was attracted to the verses in Proverbs 11 when looking through those I had not yet explored this year. The contrast between life and death in verse 19 parallels the distinction between deceptive earnings through iniquity and a sure reward from righteousness. John Gill points us to Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Moses’s proclamation of God’s covenant conditions are enumerated for Israel. (1) “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess.” (Vs. 15-18)
“The call to choose recurs throughout the Bible. It involves, not a mere momentary impulse, but commitment for a lifetime (v. 16). The issues at stake could not be more serious: life and death or blessings and curses.” (2) Another commentary states that the principle here is lasting, valuable rewards versus temporal, deceptive wages. (3) And, when I study the verbiage of verse 18, I am struck by the difference between earning wages outside of God’s will and receiving a reward from God. Combining these ideas leads me to think of what life here on earth means to us; whether we are living for ourselves or God. Christians make choices every day about who we will focus on and how—not that we ignore our needs to be healthy and manage our lives and the lives of those in our care. But hopefully that is not all we do; the spiritual content of our days is vitally important; how we express our convictions may determine how “alive” we are in our faith.
How will you approach today: Friday, December 7, 2018? What will you pursue and offer to others today that has “lasting value” and reflects your faith in God’s sovereign, good rule? Lord, on a day with doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, and preparation for surgery, show me how I can faithfully encourage those who will attend to me, knowing that there will be a sure reward.
(1) John Gill’s Exposition on the Whole Bible, Proverbs 11:19, https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/proverbs-11.html
(2) Zondervan Bible Commentary, F. F. Bruce General Editor, Deuteronomy 30:15-20, One-Volume Illustrated Digital Edition
(3) The Reformation Study Bible, Proverbs 11:18, Reformation Trust Publishing (Ligonier Ministries), Sanford, Fl., 2015.