"You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions."
Thoughts for Today:Paul wasn't interested in getting paid for his ministry here on this earth; his was a kingdom reward. Despite the difficulty and challenge of supporting himself and his companions, Paul was more concerned that the message or salvation and redemption through Christ Jesus would not be influenced or prejudiced by his group's reliance on the Ephesians' generosity.
So what is a "Kingdom Reward"? In the thesis of his book, "The Law of Rewards", author Randy Alcorn answers this question, "While our faith determines our eternal destination, our behavior determines our eternal reward." He then provides us with eight principles:
1. Giving brings greater blessing than receiving.
2. When we invest money now in God's kingdom, we will receive greater rewards later in heaven.
3. God offers us rewards that are eternal, imperishable, and inexhaustible.
4. When we see our lives through the lens of eternity, our attitude toward wealth will change drastically.
5. Obeying God is not only right, it's smart. It will always pay off in the end.
6. We will have differing levels of reward in heaven, depending on our actions and choices on earth.
7. Desiring rewards is a proper motivation for serving Christ.
8. We are not to be motivated primarily by earthly power, possessions, and pleasures, yet we are offered all three in heaven if we invest now in God's kingdom.
For many Christians these are revolutionary ideas (although firmly supported with Scripture). Paul, the author of our passage today, writes in 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, "Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." Paul was willing to do whatever was required on this earth to store up his heavenly reward ("the prize, the crown"). Are you?
Questions to Ponder:Paul had a purpose, a kingdom purpose -- a kingdom reward and crown -- that was his motivation for everything he did. What motivates you, the temporary reward of this world or the kingdom prize for all eternity? What can you do right now to change your focus?