KEY THOT: Rewards are not to be confused with bribes. Bribes are inducements to do wrong but rewards are incentives to do right. Jesus describes different kinds of rewards based on how we treat God's servants. When we treat God's servants well, we are treating Jesus and His Father well--our motives may differ but our rewards are certain. This principle applies even to how we treat the "little ones" (v.42). The Greek word for "little ones" is mikros (from which we get the English word, micro). This is translated in NLT as "the least of my followers." So, treating God's people well must include the least and the last among us.
In Matthew 25:34-40, Jesus makes the same point about the importance of treating the least of His followers well:
- Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'"
Let's learn to treat our fellow believers well, for in so doing we are treating Jesus well. That includes the leaders ("apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers") as well as the least and last in the church who may not be able to contribute much to the church's ministry. When we treat God's people well, we will receive the appropriate rewards when we meet Jesus.
Abba-Father, thank You that You have given us incentives to do what is good and right. Thank You that while we are not saved by doing good works, nevertheless You have saved us to do good works, especially to those in the household of faith. Amen.