The Eternal Reward for Love

The payment for acting in righteousness and pursuing holiness, done in love, is to gain the eternal reward of becoming more and more like God.

Lent is a time of fasting, almsgiving and increased prayer. It is also a time of preparation for the arrival of Easter.

If we reflect on the deeper meaning of this period of preparation, we find in it many opportunities to grow in virtue and holiness. More importantly, we can gain deeper insights into our own interior disposition toward holiness. In pursuing virtue, after all, it is not enough for us to do the right thing; true holiness requires us to act virtuously for the right reason.

Our Lord gives clear counsel on what we should do, and He is advices us on why we do it.

“Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give alms, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward.”

– Matthew 6:1-2

Jesus simply presumes we will be giving alms. After all, His statement is, when you give alms. From our Lord’s perspective, giving alms is not negotiable.

At the same time, Jesus is adamant about our not wearing our faith on our sleeve – so to speak. He does not want us to take account or recall our good deeds, even to ourselves.

“But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

– Matthew 6:3-4

Jesus is focused on our interior disposition, our motivation for engaging in acts of charity. He wants us to desire to perform virtuous acts simply out of our desire to grow in love.

But then, this raises an interesting question.

If we are to give alms in secret, in such a way that only the Father knows, just what is the recompense Jesus mentions we will receive from God?

Jesus makes clear God will repay us for our charity, and He does not suggest this payment will be delayed until after we enter eternal life. So, what is God’s currency for charity?

Surely we are not rewarded only with material blessings, or health or the mending of broken relationships. Even answers to our prayer requests for others cannot be our only reward. All of these are desirable, and if they are in our best interest, God will see fit to repay us in this way.

However, because God Himself is Love (1 John 4:7), it seems only appropriate He would choose to reward us with the single greatest treasure He can bestow—Himself.

“Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward.”

– Thomas Merton

The reward for our acts of charity, all done in secret, is not to receive the praise of those we bestow our charity on, or even the acclaim of others who may witness our virtuous life. Our recompense will not apply only to our earthly life, and we certainly do not act virtuously so we can feel good about ourselves. There is something much more valuable God will repay us with.

God will bestow on us the greatest gift He has go provide—His very likeness.

When we act in a way God desires of us, we continuously

And put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

– Ephesians 4:24

The payment for acting in righteousness and pursuing holiness, done in love, is to gain the eternal reward of becoming more and more like God.

Let us pray this week we might all truly desire God’s greatest gift, to become like Him.

God Bless

Article Copyright © Deacon Mark Danis

Image credit: “Creation of Adam” (detail) | Michelangelo, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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