Rewards In Heaven

Chapter One — Laying Up Treasures in Heaven

By David J. Stewart | October 2009 | Updated December 2016

Matthew 6:20, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where
neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”

       The Bible tells us to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.” This is true wealth. So many people have departed from the Christian faith because of love for money, whether it be paper money, gold and silver, real estate, et cetera. It's not a sin to invest, but it is a sin to become engulfed and engrossed with making money. For the Christian believer, money should never become a priority in our life. Our top priority in life ought to be to PLEASE GOD by obeying the Bible.

1st Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

I'm so sick and tired of hearing greedy men talk about buying gold and silver. They make it sound like you can't live without gold and silver. May I say, you can't take it with you. Everyone is born into this life with NOTHING, and they will die and leave this life with NOTHING. The measure of my success will not be how many people come to say goodbye when I leave this life, but how many people will be there to greet me when I get to Heaven. We can't take things with us into eternity, but we can take souls, changed lives and that which we have done for Christ.

It is not wrong to serve God with the motive of laying up treasures in Heaven, for the Lord Himself encourages us with this promise of accumulating rewards in eternity (Matthew 6:19-20). Jesus said to “LAY UP,” which is the Greek word thēsaurizō and means “to amass or reserve (literally or figuratively): - lay up (treasure), (keep) in store, (heap) treasure (together, up).” As our earthly wealth diminishes and disappears, our treasures in Heaven are stacking up as we serve God day-by-day.

And may I say, the believers with the most rewards in Heaven one day will be those who CONSISTENTLY serve God. It's not the spectacular moments of our life that earn us rewards in Heaven; but rather, the mundane, boring, consistent, faithful, daily labours for Christ. There are many different types of rewards that will be given in Heaven. Ecclesiastes 12:13, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Jesus taught us to lay up treasures in Heaven “where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Any wealth you may accumulate in this world is vulnerable. Thieves will always steal from you, whether by breaking into your home while you're at church, the government stealing through unconstitutional taxation, or greedy judges and lawyers stealing from you through the legal process. Thankfully, they cannot touch our heavenly rewards. This is exactly why Jesus told us to lay up treasures in Heaven. Why spend your life laying up earthly treasures, just to leave it all behind? I choose to spend each day doing things to lay up heavenly treasures. If nothing else, everyone can pray, which the Bible calls “labour” in Colossians 4:12. 

Notice that Jesus mentioned 3-culprits who rob our wealth:

  1. Moths
  2. Rust
  3. Thieves
No matter what material possessions you may have, they will deteriorate over time. An act of God, like a tornado or earthquake, may claim all that you own. You can buy expensive clothes, but they will fade and develop holes in them over time. As you wash your clothes, and wear them, they will become old, torn and unwearable. Nothing materialistic lasts forever. As Christians we ought to look continually at the things which are not seen . . .

2nd Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

There's no use reading my book on laying up rewards in Heaven if you don't focus daily on eternal things, otherwise you'll be choked by the cares, riches and pleasures of this world (Luke 8:14). I hope and pray that God's Holy Spirit will use my writings to inspire you to start working harder to serve God—sharing the Gospel with more people, giving double to missions, spending twice as much time praying for OTHERS, giving twice as much of yourself to your church, loving unconditionally to make it a better church. Oh, how we all ought to launch out into the deep like Jesus told His disciples. Luke 5:4, “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” There is world around us that is dying without Christ. If we don't tell them about Christ, then who will?

If you buy a home, termites will eat away at it, fire will consume it, a tornado will blow it away, or criminal bankers will steal it by forfeiture. If you buy nice musical instruments, thieves will break in and steal them all. If not thieves, a flood will ruin them all. If you buy a fancy automobile, it will eventually rust, parts will break, seals will dry rot, the interior will fade, the chassis will sag and engine parts will wear old. You can buy a new car every few years (if you can afford to do so), but you'll have to continue buying cars, because they will wear out. No matter what you buy, it will become old and brittle.

For these reasons we ought to lay up treasures in Heaven by labouring for the Lord in prayer, fasting, sharing the Gospel, giving to our church, helping our pastor, doing things for others, supporting missionaries, contending for the Christian faith, taking a stand for God against evil, and doing the work of God faithfully.

Jesus said that our heavenly treasures WON'T rust, nor will our clothes wear old and torn, nor will things become old and brittle, nor will the possessions we own become broken and unusable. This is quite an amazing truth. The material things which the Lord will give us in eternity will last, retain their good condition and be free from damage. For this fact, Jesus encourages us to work to lay up treasures in Heaven. Amen!

There is nothing more frustrating than to go to work, earn a paycheck, buy something one's heart desires, and enjoy it for a short time; but then a thief breaks into your home, car or storage area and steals it. Stealing is a sin forbidden in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:15). There are many thieves in this world, most of whom wear white collars and sit behind a desk.

It's not the petty thief breaking into your back door that you need to worry about the most; it's the criminal bankers, tyrant government and crooked lawyers who will take away your wealth. There is a way to thwart all of them—by laying up treasures in Heaven where they can't steal them from us.


Serving God Through a Local New Testament Church

God has always worked through local New Testament churches. Every Christian believer needs to be involved in a Bible-believing, soul-winning, King James Bible, missionary-supporting, local church. My friend, serving God in your church is a wonderful way to lay up treasures in Heaven.

It is said that one cold and gloomy day, Pastor Dwight L. Moody visited a man who had expressed some interest at one of Moody’s meetings. Mr. Moody was led into a comfortable room with coals blazing on the fireplace. After some gracious preliminary conversation, the man began to argue that it was possible for a believer to live for God without attending a local church. As the man continued to speak, Moody leaned forward in his chair, took the poker and pulled a flaming coal from the fire, setting it alone upon the stone hearth. Dwight Moody watched as the coal slowly dimmed and went out. He then turned and looked at the man, without saying anything. After a long pause, the man said, “Mr. Moody, you have made your point!”

Also, don't join the increasingly popular group of church critics in America nowadays. I hear so many people complaining about their pastor and church, always bickering about what's wrong and could be better. May I say, there are no perfect churches, and thank God for that, or neither you nor I would be welcomed. Churches are composed of individual imperfect people. Christians at best are still people, and people at best are still sinners. ASK NOT WHAT YOUR CHURCH CAN DO FOR YOU; BUT RATHER, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR YOUR CHURCH? I choose not to complain about existing problems in my church (and there are plenty); but rather, to pray and do my part to make it a better church. I feel sorry for hypocrites who go from church-to-church, always disgruntled and scrutinizing the church leadership with a big magnifying glass, quitting when they discover that their pastor is less than absolutely perfect.

If you have not been water baptized, do so as soon as possible. Of course, water baptism is not required to be saved. Baptism is the first step of obedience as a Christian. I believe churches ought to water baptize their new converts immediately, because delaying often results in converts never getting baptized. Although not necessary for salvation, most believers who fail to get water baptized also fail to serve God in other areas of their Christian life. It is important to be water baptized, as a public profession of you faith in Christ's death on the cross, burial and bodily resurrection three days later. These three things constitute the Gospel according to 1st Corinthians 15:1-4. Water baptism pictures Christ's death, burial and resurrection. Baptism is an outward snapshot of what has happened inwardly in one's heart. It is “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Romans 10:10).


How Do We Lay Up Treasures in Heaven?

As a Christian, everything that you do for Jesus' sake or the Gospel's will be rewarded. Everything that one does as a Christian for the Lord Jesus Christ—soulwinning, doing good deeds, helping the poor, praying, shoveling snow for the church, buying Gospel tracts or Bibles for the church, lending without hope of return, loving our neighbor, sharing sermon MP3 sermons with others, teaching the Bible, contending for the faith, loving our enemies, passing out Bibles—these will all be greatly rewarded by God in eternity. No good deed, word or thought will be overlooked. Everything that you do because you are a born-again believer, even the most seemingly insignificant small thing, will be rewarded by our omniscient and omnibenevolent God.

There are a lot of different ways to earn rewards:

  1. By Winning Souls to Jesus Christ (John 4:36).
  2. By Serving Those Who Preach and Go Soul-winning (Matthew 10:42; Mark 9:41).
  3. By Enduring Persecution, Rejection and Being Lied About for Christ (Matthew 5:11; Luke 6:22-23; Revelation 2:10).
  4. By Giving to the Work of the Lord (Philippians 4:15).
    1. Giving to the Lord's work (i.e., a missionary, preacher, prophet, soul-winner).
    2. Giving Alms (giving to the poor or handicapped - Matthew 6:34-35; Matthew 6:1-4). Giving “alms” is not tithing.
    3. Lending without expectation of return to people having a tough time; to those down on their luck (Luke 6:34-35).
  5. By Labouring in Prayer (Matthew 6:6; Colossians 4:12).
  6. Any Good Works That We Do, Whether Unto the Lord or Unto Man (1st Corinthians 3:11-15).
  7. By Relieving the Afflicted (Matthew 25:40-45; 1st John 3:17).

If we provide a place of rest, a drink of water, a meal, money, clothes or anything to help a servant of Christ, the Lord will reward us for it. If you pass out a Gospel tract (if they are doctrinally accurate), Jesus will reward that. If you purchase the Gospel tracts (if they are doctrinally accurate), Jesus will reward you for that. If you donate money to help a Bible-believing church, you will receive a partial reward for any souls they lead to the Lord, or lives that are blessed by the preaching and teaching of the Word of God.

Again, the following Scripture plainly teaches that soul-winners are earning wages, and gathering fruit (souls saved), for life eternal...

John 4:36, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

That is so beautiful. Whether we sow the seed of God's Word, or have the privilege of reaping a soul (leading them to the dear Savior), we both receive equal wages, because only God giveth the increase (1st Corinthians 3:6-8). It is the blessed Holy Spirit that convicts sinner's hearts and works the miracle of the new birth, by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:12-13).

This next Scripture passage is beautiful. The Bible says that if we give unto someone who is preaching the Gospel, winning souls, their fruit will abound unto our account. That is, we will receive a partial reward for the people (fruit) they won to the Lord. In verse 17, the apostle Paul is saying that the believers at Philippi will receive a partial reward for the fruit that Paul won:

Philippians 4:15-19, “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”

Notice in Verses 18-19 that not only do we receive a partial reward when we give money to someone else who wins souls, but also, God promises to meet our needs in Christ Jesus. I love this truth in Philippians 4:17, how that God rewards us for the souls won by others, if we helped them in their work. I don't know about you, but that encourages me to help, give and support soul-winning missionaries and churches.

By the way, be careful about who you give your money to, because if you're saved, it is really God's money. We when give, we are just letting go of what is already God's. I'd hate to spend my life donating to a church or missionary that has never won any souls to Christ. If you want to maximize your investments for eternity, make sure you only support Gospel endeavors. Sadly, 99% of so-called charities and ministries never win one soul to Christ, because they're not trying.

We receive rewards for the work that our converts do for the Lord. 2nd John 1:8, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” Paul said, “Look, I've invested a lot of time and energy into you, and I want to receive a full reward, and I know you do too, so don't let yourselves be corrupted!”

Being “poor” does not refer to lazy people, who collect welfare and have a color TV, cigarettes, booze and lottery tickets! What many people consider “poor” in America is wealthy compared to destitute third-world countries. Yet, there are many truly poor people all across the streets of America. Jesus said in Matthew 26:11a, “For ye have the poor always with you...” God has a special place in His heart for the poor. James 2:5, “Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?”

If you are crippled or imprisoned and unable to do anything else for God, you can become a prayer warrior!!! Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” Prayer is work, which is why most Christians don't do it much! God promised to reward us as individuals for our “own labours” (1st Corinthians 3:8). Without prayer, the power of the Holy Spirit will not work in a ministry. God's work cannot be accomplished in the arm of the flesh. THE SPIRIT'S ABIDING (Dr. Jack Hyles).

Matthew 6:6, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Amen! The Scriptures PROMISE that God will openly reward any believer that prays in secret. This simply means that you are sincere in your prayers, spending time alone with God, and not superficially praying in public (like the Presidential Prayer Breakfast at the White House) to be seen of men, reading from scripts written by professional speech-writers. God doesn't honor phony prayer (Matthew 6:5, 7-8). Jesus taught us to enter into our closet, or your home if you're alone. The idea is to get alone with God. Philippians 4:6-7, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” That's beautiful!

There are many ways to lay up treasures in Heaven. Giving to the legitimate poor brings rewards. Proverbs 19:17, “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” The apostle Paul mentioned contributions to the poor saints in Jerusalem...

Romans 15:26, “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.”

Here are some Scriptures which promise rewards from God...

Matthew 5:10-12, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

Luke 6:22-23, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold,
your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets."

Luke 6:35, "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and
your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil."

Proverb 19:17, "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again."

The poor are near and dear to the heart of God. God has promised to reward those who help the poor.


The Extent Of God's Judgment And Recompense Toward All Men

Jesus warned in Matthew 12:36 that “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” This applies to good, idle and bad words alike. No one is going to escape God's judgment. No one is going to get away with anything. The Bible teaches that God will hold men accountable even for our very thoughts. Proverbs 24:12, “If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?” Hebrews 4:13, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” Isn't it wonderful to know that nothing escapes the eyes of God? Nothing ever occurs to God. The Lord never needs to write things down, keep records or try to remember anything—because He is omniscient and knows everything about all things.

Jesus wonderfully encourages all believers by promising us that giving even a cup of water in Jesus' name will not go unrewarded by God in eternity. Mark 9:41, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.”

If you think that is amazing, then prepare to be mind-boggled my friend, because Jesus promised that giving even a cup of water “IN THE NAME OF A DISCIPLE” will not go overlooked by God in eternity. Matthew 10:42, “And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” Are you starting to get the wonderful picture friend? God wants to reward us for everything we do for Him. God is going to judge all men, saved and unsaved alike, scrutinizing every work, word and thought, whether good or bad. For the saved, the blood of Jesus Christ has washed our sins away. Psalms 103:12, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” There is no danger of the Christian being cast into the dreaded Lake of Fire; but for the unsaved, God will punish them in the fires of Hell for every sin they've ever committed.

Mark 9:41, "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward." Even the person who helps a person who serves God will receive a reward from God. If God will reward us for even giving a cup of water, then how much more shall He reward us for preaching the Gospel to lost sinners and helping the poor in Jesus' name.


Sharing The Gospel Will Be Rewarded

Time spent preaching the gospel will be rewarded. 1st Corinthians 3:7-8, “So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.” God will reward us for our individual labors in the Lord, as you just read: “according to his own labour.” We all reach the future at 60 minutes per hour. We all have 24 hours in a day. We all have 86,400 seconds in a day. God promises to reward each and every individual believer “ACCORDING TO HIS OWN LABOUR.”

That encourages me greatly, because I can serve God even if others don't. I can preach the gospel while others are “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection” (Luke 8:14). What are you doing for God? How much of your time, money and labours do you spend to reach the lost for Christ, help others and make a difference for the Kingdom of God?

Please notice that God doesn't reward us for the number of people who get saved; but rather, for the effort we put forth to get people saved. Only God can save a soul. God doesn't reward soul-winners; but rather, those who preach (or share) the gospel. Whether we win a soul to Christ or simply plant the seed of God's Word by sharing the gospel, the reward is the same according to his own labour. Our part is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ; it is God's part to convict lost sinners and save those who come to Jesus Christ.


Why Will We Be Rewarded?

Why would Christ reward us? He has already paid for our sins on the cross. The Lord could just as easily say, “Hey, I died for you, now you owe me!” Instead, the Bible calls serving God our “reasonable service” in Romans 12:2. It is only reasonable that since we are bought with a price (and that “price” is the precious blood of Jesus), we ought to give our lives to follow Christ in obedience to the holy Bible. 1st Corinthians 6:20, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”

Lost souls need to be saved. Seeds planted need to be watered. The “seed” is the Word of God (Luke 8:11). Witnessing to someone is the “sowing.” When a person is brought to Christ, that is the “reaping.” Once we're saved, we have eternal life. We will never die! Notice the following beautiful Scripture:

John 4:36, “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

The “wages” in John 4:36 are not eternal life. The gift of God is eternal life. The “wages” are for soul-winning. By preaching the Gospel and winning souls we are “gathering fruit unto life eternal,” Rewards are “unto” eternal life, reaping souls to receive wages from God. Our wages will last forever. Eternal life is a free gift, which is why God rewards us for service. We can't take anything with us, but we can sent it on ahead. Amen! Whew, I love that!!!

Why will we be rewarded? It is because eternal life is a free gift. We cannot earn eternal life. Jesus gets all the glory for salvation. We have no part in meriting our salvation, neither before, during or after. God pays His workers. The free “gift” of eternal life is totally separate from our rewards, because God pays His workers! Jesus paid for our forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It is a gift. That's why Jesus doesn't need to forgive our sins, because He has already paid for them with His blood (1st Peter 1:18-19).

God doesn't want us to take any credit for salvation. This is why He rewards us for even giving a cup of water in a disciple's name. God is going to reward even the tiniest efforts done for Him. Anything that we do for Jesus' sake or the Gospel's will be rewarded. Mark 9:41, “For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” God pays His workers! The free gift of eternal life is completely separate from that.

“Gathering fruit unto eternal life” in John 4:36 refers to the rewards that we earn by serving God as believers, specifically, reaping souls by soul-winning. This has NOTHING to do with the free gift of eternal life:

Matthew 10:39-42, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”

So, even if we help someone in the name of someone else, who is a servant of Christ, God will reward us. What a wonderful Savior!!!


Labouring In Prayer Will Be Rewarded

Prayer will be rewarded. One of the most overlooked ways of laying up treasures in Heaven is by labouring in PRAYER. Quite frankly, PRAYER IS WORK! Colossians 4:12, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” I love that Scripture. All prayer is work! It consumes our mental energies. Prayer requires the sacrifice of our time, which could have been spent elsewhere. Any businessman will admit that in essence time is money and money is time. Thus, in God's economy prayer is a powerful resource for every Christian believer, which the Lord has promised to reward those who faithfully pray without ceasing as the Bible commands in 1st Thessalonians 5:17.

Prayer is work! That's why most people don't pray. Notice that that the Apostle Paul was praying for OTHERS. In Luke 11:2-4 we find the Lord's Prayer (which is really the disciple's prayer because Jesus was teaching them how to pray) we are given a pattern to follow. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:7 not to pray long prayers, because God already knows our needs. God has made prayer simple as to motivate and encourage us to pray continually.


Rewards Are A Matter Of Discipleship, Not Sonship

Please understand, none of these things will get us to Heaven. We are saved solely by Christ's righteousness; and not by any self-righteousness of our own, and a good thing, because we have none to offer God (Isaiah 64:6). Hence, we don't do good works to become a Christian; we do good works because WE ARE a Christian.

So many people these days are absolutely consumed with making money. It's their life. Although they may enjoy the splendors of this temporary life, they won't have much in Heaven, if they're even going to Heaven.

The greatest treasure in Heaven will be the souls of people saved through the preaching of the Gospel. That is the greatest treasure of all.

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“God never leads anyone anywhere for money.” —Pastor Jack Hyles


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