Receive and Reward

One of those musings where I launch out but I’m not sure where I’m going. Hovering over the last verses of my reading in Matthew this morning. Sensing they are profound, yet not sure I can really articulate why.

“The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” ~ Jesus

(Matthew 10:41-42 ESV)

Receive and reward. There’s a connection between these two in the kingdom of heaven.

Receive. Take by the hand. Grant access to. Give ear to. Embrace. Make one’s own.

Reward. Wages. Dues owed. The fruit naturally (or, perhaps, supernaturally) resulting from toils and endeavors.

Receive and you will receive a reward. Apparently a kingdom cause and effect dynamic. Action and reaction. Do the one, expect the other.

Prophets, highly esteemed within Israel. Messengers of God. Often miracle workers of God. A widow of Zarephath received Elijah (1Kings 17:9-24), and a wealthy Shunammite woman received his successor, Elisha (2Kings 4:8-37). Both received a reward. The former, miraculous provision during a drought. The latter, a baby after being barren. Both, their sons brought back from death after succumbing to illness. Received a prophet, received a reward.

A righteous person. What comes to mind is Psalm 1. One who “delights in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2) — the antithesis of those who counsel wickedness, lead in the way of sin, are marked by the propensity to scoff. Hang with the righteous and “Blessed is the man.” All that he does prospers. Like a tree which flourishes by streams of water, bearing fruit with perpetual vitality. Receive a righteous person, receive a reward.

Making sense so far.

But a “little one?” An every day, run of the mill, struggling disciple? A nobody? A reward there as well? Hmmm . . .

Jesus is pretty specific on what “receive” means for these frail followers: give them a cup of cold water just because — just because they’re Mine. Extend compassion, consideration, and a pretty mundane act of kindness not because of what they have done, but because of who they are, a disciple. And there too, just as with the prophet and the righteous one, there is promised a reward.

Pause and consider. Are we eager to receive disciples? What’s our view towards these other little ones? Would we extend to them but a cup of cold water for no other reason than they too are followers of Jesus, regardless of how they align with us on any number of issues or inclinations on how to be a follower of Christ? And, in so doing, would we think there’d really be a reward for such a mundane act, given they are not of our particular theological persuasion or ideological tribe?

I know there are those who don’t think we should be motivated by rewards. But I think too much is taught in Scripture about rewards to ignore them. At the very least it tells us what’s valued in the kingdom. At the very most, who doesn’t want to lay claim on promised treasures in the kingdom?

Jesus values His disciples receiving His disciples just because they are His disciples. Values it so much in the kingdom economy He’s willing to pay for it.

How come? I think there’s a clue, at least one reason, in the verse I didn’t quote, the verse that proceeds these two.

“Whoever receives you receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me.”

(Matthew 10:40 ESV)

Receive a disciple, receive the Master. Receive the Master, receive the One who sent the Master. Grant access to a little one, embrace the Son, give ear to the Father. And in just that, isn’t there great reward? I’m thinking.

No wonder Jesus said, “Love one another” (Jn. 13:34, 15:12, 15:17). He who first loved us, and received us, knows that in receiving one another we will “by no means” lose our reward.

For our good. By His grace. For His glory.

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