Selfless people do things for others without expecting anything in return, as we all should. But, when we consider human existence itself, it’s certainly not unreasonable to ask, “What’s in it for me?” Are the risks and rewards worth it? To live life well requires a tremendous commitment of our time and energy—is the cost and reward worth our time and energy commitment?
The Apostle Peter essentially asked Jesus this question in Matthew 19:27–29. Peter said to Jesus, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” Was it wrong for them to ask that of their Lord?
Being a follower of Christ is a big commitment—despite some modern-day preaching to the contrary, where all that is asked of a person is to “just pray the sinner’s prayer and you will be saved” or to “give your heart to the Lord” for a moment. True Christianity is not a one-time prayer or one-time action. Far from it—true Christianity is a lifelong commitment to follow Jesus Christ’s teachings, to learn by studying His word, and to obey God’s commandments and live His way of life daily. It requires repentance from sin, as well as no longer following the lifestyles of those who are not striving to live as Jesus commands.
Jesus answered Peter’s question, saying to His disciples that when He returned in power and glory to reign over the world, His disciples would then also sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). He also said that if they had to leave family and lands for Jesus’ sake, they would receive a hundredfold and inherit everlasting life (v. 29). The parallel account in Luke 18:30 words this as receiving “many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.” That is a very great reward in answer to the question, “What’s in it for me?”
There are other things that a true Christian is to do. Christians are required to pray and fast. Jesus said that there is a reward for doing these things, if they are done in the right way (Matthew 6:5–8, 16–18). Charitable deeds are also rewarded if done in the right way (vv. 1–4).
Jesus taught what are known as the Beatitudes, some of which seem difficult, but all of which are telling in revealing the true attitude Christians must have. For instance, Jesus said His disciples are blessed when they are hated, excluded, and reviled, and that they have great rewards reserved in heaven which Christ brings when He comes (Luke 6:22–23). Jesus proceeds to explain the importance of loving even those who hate and curse us, and to promise that a great reward will come from learning to do so (vv. 27–35).
Hebrews 11 is known as “the faith chapter,” but notice what it says about rewards: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (v. 6). Many of the patriarchs are mentioned as examples of the faithful, a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). Moses is mentioned, of whom it is said that he forsook the “treasures in Egypt” he could have enjoyed as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches” (Hebrews 11:24–27).
When Jesus returns in power and glory, “He will reward each according to his works” (Matthew 16:27). True Christians will receive a great reward.
For more on this exciting topic, read What Is a True Christian? Two related booklets are Do You Believe the True Gospel? and Satan’s Counterfeit Christianity. All of these are available free of charge, right here at Tomorrow’s World.