The Rewards of a Virtuous Life

February 7, 2016

                            The Rewards of a Virtuous Life

Some people are inclined to think that the Christian life is a mountain of sacrifices in hopes of enjoying pie in the sky by and by.  The truth is that a dedicated Christian doesn’t live the Christian life just for rewards he expects to get from it.  The rewards are just a byproduct.

The secret of the Christian life is a walk in love.  In Ephesians 5:1-2 we read, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;  and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savor.”  The Christian’s greatest desire should be to please God.  That’s the way God wants it to be.  In John 14:15 Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”  What we do out of love, we don’t do with the expectation of getting something in return. God puts his love in our hearts and we are to share it with others.  I John 3:16-17 says, “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.   But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” There is no greater satisfaction in life than to love and be loved.  II Corinthians 5:14 says, “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”

Now that we have made it clear that Christians don’t live to get, let’s go on the talk about the rewards of a virtuous life.  The more we love God, the more we are loved by God.  Because God loves us, he rewards us just like good parents reward their children when they do something good.  Joseph, in the Bible, is an example. Again and again God protected and delivered him.  His wicked brothers sold him into slavery.  When he arrived in Egypt he was sold to a high government official.  He gave him special privileges.  Because Joseph was a virtuous man he refused to sin with his master’s wife.  The result was that he was cast into prison.  Even there he found favor with the prison keeper.  After a time, he was taken out of prison and given special privileges in the government.  He was rewarded again and again.

There is a dignity about a virtuous person.  When they are abused, or falsely accused, those who know them come to their defense.  They are respected.  Virtue isn’t just a quality that is found in Christians.  There are many in this world who aren’t Christians, but it could be said that they are virtuous.  They too enjoy the respect and protection of those who know them.  They will get earthly rewards for their virtue, but there won’t be any heavenly rewards for them because there will be no heaven for them.

That doesn’t mean that virtuous people never suffer.  Some of the most virtuous people this world has ever known died as martyrs.  Suppose a missionary is taken hostage by cannibals.  He watches as they sharpen the knife with which they plan to kill him.  Is God able to deliver him?  We are told that with God, nothing is impossible.  But if the missionary is killed by savages he will go directly to heaven where he will be rewarded with a martyr’s crown.

There are many people who profess to be Christians, but the way they live has much to be desired. God knows, perhaps they aren’t even saved. With little virtue in their life, they won’t experience many of the rewards we have talked about in this article.  I Corinthians 3:15 says some will be saved, so as by fire.  “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”  In Revelation 7:17 God says there will be tears in heaven.  No doubt they will be tears of remorse for having had so little virtue in their earthly life. “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

Many good character traits are included in the word virtue.  In II Peter 1:4-8, virtue is at the top of the list, right after faith.  “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.   And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;   and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;    and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.    For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It may be that the things that follow faith are things that accompany virtue.

There is no Christian who is so strong but what he could yield to temptation.  It is unfortunate when he does.  He is without excuse because we all have the promise of I Corinthians 10:13. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” We should frequently ask God to help us guard our heart as it says in Proverbs 4:23.  “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” If we fall, God is ready to forgive us and restore us.  I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

The unbeliever only experiences some of the rewards that result from a virtuous life.  By virtue of being a child of God, the wayward Christian may at times be delivered from dangers.  The faithful Christian experiences the rewards that come from living a virtuous life, and there will be many more to come when he gets to heaven.  Virtue in our life is always an asset.  We can never have too much of it.






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