What are we pursuing? The rewards or the Rewarder?

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
Hebrews 11:6 NLT

I worry, both for myself and others, that if we are not careful, we may miss God’s intended direction for our pursuits in this life. Make no mistake, the list of rewards can be extremely long as a Christian. Earlier in Hebrews, we are told: “For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ.” Hebrews 3:14 (NLT) If we are faithful to God, we “share in all that belongs to Christ”. That means that we are overflowing with rewards if we are seeking Him!

Though the rewards of a relationship with God are limitless, we have to focus ourselves on the Rewarder Himself. All those rewards flow from God and while we need to have faith that He rewards us if we seek Him, we need to be careful to keep God as the focus of our faith. Pursuing God should be our goal. He is the source of all these rewards and is far more valuable.

Are we pursuing the rewards or the Rewarder?


The first and foremost reward is redemption. “With his own blood—not the blood of goats and calves—he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever.” (Hebrews 9:12). We would never have been able to attain that reward on our own, for we all fall short (Romans 3:23).

Since we are asking the question of what we are pursuing, we can apply this question to the most significant reward we receive from God through His Son…

Are we seeking redemption as rescue from our sin or rescue from our problems?

No one else can answer this for us, however, it is such an important distinction in considering our desire for salvation. Sometimes the answer is fuzzy and we honestly aren’t sure what our true intentions are. Life on Earth can be very challenging. We can be faced with so many difficulties. We can be unsure of our identity and where we belong and what our purpose is. But no matter what we are searching for or struggling with in life, we ultimately need rescuing from our sin.

While I think we all recognize that conceptually, I want to point out an example that might cause us to consider it in a new way. Matthew 9:1-8 shares a story about a paralytic man who was carried to Jesus by his friends and actually lowered through the roof for Jesus to help him. Though this man had obvious difficulties in his life, when Jesus healed him, he said “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven”. Now, there are a number of things Jesus was showing to those who were watching Him perform that miracle, but can you can see the parallel? We may think that what we need solved is our problem (healing of paralysis in this case), but in reality, Jesus addressed the root of our collective problem that is far greater. We all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and by redeeming us to God, Jesus is saving our eternal lives (John 3:36 and many others). We need this far more!


Blessings are definitely a large category of rewards, specifically blessings on this earth or during our lifetime. If we wanted to count our blessings, we could come up with a large list if we gave ourselves enough time. We have blessings of life, health, prosperity, family and so many more. Blessings are not guaranteed or promised! We are not assured of these things, which is part of why we consider it a blessing…because it is not guaranteed.

God promised many blessings to Israel if they obeyed Him (Deut 5:33). Though that was a more specific promise related to His purpose for Israel, we understand that we have many blessings in our life from following God. Though specific blessings are not promised, we can trust that God will provide for us if we come to Him because He cares for us (Philippians 4:19). Our lists of blessings may be different, but it is usually quite long, even if it is missing some items we would like to be there.

Among the list of blessings is the wisdom from the word of God. If we follow God’s wisdom, it can guide us toward blessings as well–it is wisdom after all. Some verses even say we may extend our life on earth by applying God’s wisdom, which I think we all desire at some level if we have loved ones. Ephesians 6:3 actually says we will have a long life on Earth and things will go well for us by obeying our parents…bet that wasn’t what you expected! If you follow God’s wisdom regarding marriage, you can find contentment with your spouse. If you follow God’s wisdom with money, you may be blessed with financial stability.

Inevitably, when we are given blessings like financial security, we can slip into a reliance on these blessings instead of a reliance on God, even if we followed God’s wisdom. It stretched my faith a great deal when I married an entrepreneur who wanted to pursue his own business. Even with my own income to keep stability of our finances, I realized how much of my security was in financial stability rather than from God.

Are we relying on these blessings or are we relying on God to provide for us? We often find the answer when the blessings we are holding on to disappear.

A Changed Person

Giving a title to this section was difficult. This category could also be called growth, “renewal of the mind”, self-improvement, or transformation. God is incredibly good at this aspect if we give it over to Him. A desire to change and improve ourselves is a very noble, yet often misleading goal. Christians are certainly expected to grow (Hebrews 5) and change, however, Christians once again have to be mindful of our purpose in self-improvement.

Listen to this verse in Romans:

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.” Romans 12:2a

Let God transform you! We obviously have a part to play in that, but we allow God to lead by seeking Him first and following His ways. We don’t simply copy the trends of this world for how to be better…our purpose in self-improvement should still ultimately be about glorifying God and living out His example.

In the season of motherhood, I often focus my self-improvement on parenting and family. I stumble often in a strong desire to be “good” in these areas, which can certainly be a blessing from God. I was recently studying the Proverbs 31 woman with a precious friend of mine, at her request. Her children and husband call her blessed and praise how “good” she is as a mother and a wife. “Her children stand and bless her. Her husband praises her: “There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” ” Proverbs 31:28-29. I would love for my children and my husband to view me that way. I have a strong desire to be a good mother and wife. And there is nothing wrong with that. But I have to remind myself that it is a secondary priority. I am a Christian first. I have to seek God more diligently than I seek to be a “good” mother and wife. And frankly, to the extent that I can achieve that, it will likely fall short without a focus on God. We need to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33).

I have enjoyed the idea of flipping verses in this blog post, so I want to apply that to a verse that we often hear. Jesus said “If you love me, keep my commandments”. Some people may hold to a portion of God’s commandments based on their own judgement. Some may apply God’s wisdom and commands to their life such as “doing the right thing” or being loving and generous. However, it all starts with a love for Jesus. If it doesn’t, then we have truly missed the point. Keeping God’s commandments only “counts” with God if you love Him and His Son. We love Him, so we choose to keep His commandments to show our love. If we don’t start with a love for Jesus, then we may be seen as “good” before men, but we are not truly viewed as “good” before the Father.

Jesus says, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good.”” (Luke 18:19) Are we seeking the definition of “goodness” or are we seeking “goodness” of our own making?


We all desire God’s help in our lives. Our prayers are filled with requests. When we ask for help from God, we have gone to the best possible place to ask. God is able to accomplish anything! He can help you conquer addiction, sickness, and even the Devil! Through His wisdom and knowledge, He can justly give us an answer that will help us…even if it wasn’t what we thought or the answer we wanted. What a great reward!

And it doesn’t stop there! When Christ says He will send the Holy Spirit, He calls him “the Helper” (John 15:26). We have help in this life from Christ if we are in Him. Christ can perfect us in ways we cannot. Philippians 3:12 says “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.” Whether we are trying to break a sinful habit or simply need strength or comfort, Jesus provides it all. We also have help and support from the people of God (the Church). We have a family of brothers and sisters in the Faith who will help us (2 Corinthians 1:4).

Though God’s help is tremendous, we have to consider, are we looking for help or are we looking for God, the Helper?

None of us want to admit we have done this, but I know you all have at least seen movies where people will ask God for something. Yet, it is clear that they don’t want God, just the help that He offers. “God if you would ________” (hear, God if you would help me, then I will follow you).

Do you see how they (often we) have flipped the verse from the beginning of this post? Let’s read it again.

“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

The purpose of all this is to be pleasing to God and we must have a desire to come to Him! We must be seeking to be with God and please God first. And in order to do that, God says we must believe in Him and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him! That means believing not only that He exists but that He is faithful to His promises. We are pursuing God…or at least He is asking us to.

Certainly there will be help, wisdom and blessings in this life from God. But before all of that there is God alone. If we are not seeking God, then we have missed the greatest reward He offers us because to receive it, we must want to come to God. We must pursue God, not the rewards we receive as a result.

For some, their list of rewards may be shorter…for any number of reasons, many out of their control. You aren’t failing at drawing near to God just because your rewards don’t seem as long. Many of the rewards of God are not seen in this physical world, yet we are laying up treasures in Heaven (Matthew 6:19-20).

Martyrs have lost their lives for the cause of Christ and their life on earth may not look rewarding, but their rewards are just as precious; arguably more so. I think we should consider the question, were martyrs after the rewards here on Earth? I think the answer is likely “no” or they wouldn’t have suffered and died for the name of Christ. In their physical life on Earth, it may be hard to identify many rewards or even to find a few, and yet they stayed faithful to Christ and no one would argue that their faith was weak! They have certainly shared in all things that belong to Christ, but what they shared included Christ’s suffering and persecution. That is not often what we think of when we consider all that we will recieve because of Christ. Their pursuit, one can infer, must have been for something more than reward or they wouldn’t have endured such awful things in the name of faith.

“He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” Hebrews 11:26

Even in consideration of the great reward of Heaven, we have to remember why that is so great. The reason why we desire to be in Heaven is not because it’s a beautiful, perfect place, though it is. We desire the reward of Heaven because the Rewarder is there and that is who we want to be With forever.

Reflecting on these ideas in my own life recently has shown me so many areas to refocus and reset my goals. I pray we all focus our pursuit on the Rewarder and remember that the rewards offered by Him are tremendous, but that they all point back to the One who created them–God! That is where our pursuits should be. The rewards will come. If not here, then in Heaven.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s