Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Can Rewards Be A Proper Motivation?

By S. Michael Durham

The question is a good question to ask in light of the Bible’s insistent and oft repeated command that we are to be motivated by a love for God. The answer is found in the pages of the Bible.

Jesus Used Rewards as a Motivation

Matthew 5:11-12 Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you

The Apostles Used Rewards as a Motivation

2 John 1:8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.

Not only are rewards the design of God, but rewards are divine in nature. It is in God’s nature to reward. God loves to reward His servants. The rewards are an evidence of His giving and gracious nature.

It is also man’s nature to be rewarded. It is in our nature to be motivated by rewards. The Lord made us to need incentives in order to perform well. He created us to desire pleasure. This is quite obvious in that He made man and put him in a paradise of pleasure. Heaven is a place of pleasure. The ultimate pleasure is God Himself, “. . . In Your presence [is] fullness of joy; At Your right hand [are] pleasures forevermore” (Psalms 16:11).

Another intrinsic incentive is the desire for gain. We are made to want. The desire to gain is not evil. The problem is what we desire and to what intensity we desire. God is to be desired so that we can say as the Apostle Paul said, “that I may gain Christ.”

The fear of loss is also a strong motivation. Psychologists believe that the fear of loss is a stronger motivation than the desire for gain. Finally, the desire for power is innate in God’s creation of humanity. We have this built-in desire for power, otherwise the desire to rule with Christ would be meaningless.

All of these internal motives found in the heart of men were created by God. Temptation is aimed at using these motives of human nature in a perverted way. The sin is not having the motives, but how we use them. Jesus did not have a sin nature and yet Satan appealed to these motives in temptation. Why did Satan use these desires if they did not exist in our Lord? If these are evil motives and Christ did not have them, then the temptation of Christ was useless? These motivations were present in Christ because they are natural to our humanity given to us by the Lord.

So, the motivation for rewards is a proper motivation—it is in fact a godly motivation. The Bible does not say that one motive, the love of God, is the only motive, but is the highest motive. If you should refuse to serve the Lord unless He rewarded you, then sin would be involved. Love is not out of the equation, nor does love remove other proper motivations.

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