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Foundations For Our Future #79

Foundations for Our Future (79)

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Rewards

Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel opens with teaching that is very familiar to those who annually attend Ash Wednesday services. (This year on February 17th) There will be three sections that we take in turn, one about our giving (Matthew 6:2-4), one about our praying (Matthew 6:5-15), and one about our fasting (Matthew 5:16-18). And all three sections are about how we practice our faith, or as Jesus says, how we practice “our righteousness before other people.” (Matthew 6:1)

But before we go forward we must go backward to a word we passed over last week, but which looms large this week: “reward.” (Matthew 5:46)

How do you imagine the meaning of “reward” when you hear the word? For many it will conjure up the current mania for the Lottery. For an older generation it may remind us of cash promised for the information that leads to the solving of a crime. Perhaps most of all now, at least pre- Covid, it brings to mind Frequent Flier Miles.

Jesus clearly considers that seeking a reward is the most natural thing that any healthy person might choose to do. Most are neighborly because we want the reward of being treated in a neighborly way. People join clubs and societies so they will be on the inside of behavior that will be rewarded. There is an almost universal expectation that if I am “good” I will be rewarded.

Our Lord boldly declares that the lives of those who follow him will be rewarded.