There’s an unspoken belief among some Christians that you can’t enjoy your service to God. It should cost you something. You should feel like it took something out from you. I don’t know where this idea comes from, but I remember being a young Christian and being led down this road. There’s nothing in Scripture to back up this mindset. Yes, Scripture indicates we are counted worthy to suffer for His name’s sake. Yes, it praises when we are tested. Yes, we see a great example in Job when he suffers. However, none of those cases have God saying, “You can’t enjoy Me. You can’t enjoy working for My name.” Rather, Scripture tells us the opposite. For instance, James tells us to “count it all joy” when speaking of our trials. You can’t miss the word “joy” there.
I think our predecessors understood this better than we do as the modern church. After all, if you look at the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the first question is, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer stands in opposition to that serving is painful viewpoint, “A man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” To enjoy Him forever? Absolutely.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. – Ephesians 1:11-14, ESV
Twice our inheritance is mentioned and twice it’s stated that all of this is “to the praise of His glory.” Our inheritance is something we should be looking forward to. Our inheritance should bring us joy. Our inheritance, our joy in it, it all works together to the praise of His glory. After all, if you knew an unbelievable inheritance awaited you (which it does), how can you be dour and downcast thinking about it? That joy is for His glory.
Some may say that it’s selfish and not very Christ-like to look forward to a reward from God, whether that reward be heaven or something else. This shows how poorly they understand the Scriptures. God constantly promises rewards, most of them spiritual, throughout His revelation. We are promised an inheritance here. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus reminds us that God the Father is a good father, far better than we who are evil, and knows the kinds of gifts to give to His children. We are told to store up our treasures in heaven. These are just a few references. The Bible is filled with so many more.
This only makes sense. As parents and adults we reward children when they do the right thing or when they accomplish something. Do we do that so that they become our little minions? Most parents don’t do those things for this reason. Do we expect that they will only do things because of rewards? No. We’re hoping the rewards encourage them to persevere until they see the value of doing those things, of trying hard, on their own. And still we hope to reward them if we can. Maybe it’s not a meal at their favorite fast food place. Maybe it changes to just a simple, “Well done. I’m so proud of you,” but we as adults still believe in giving a reward.
I hope you find joy in your service to our Lord. Some acts of service are painful. Some require great sacrifice. Some are not our first choices. However, we can still find joy in that service. We can still look forward to the rewards. It is not unrighteous to take joy in knowing that God will bless us, that He will reward us, and that there are treasures and a great inheritance to look forward to. After all, our Father is a good father who knows the proper gifts for each one of His children.