Christians, as well as other people who don’t go to church very often, know very well that a good deed is always rewarded. Even children know from small ages that bringing joy to their parents by their deeds, they will be rewarded.
Christ has promised that for every good deed, no matter how small it is, we won’t lose our reward, neither here, nor in His Reign.
“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.” (Mark 9, 41)
From my experience I can tell you, as many others, that the Lord is very good and He really gives rewards one hundred times bigger here on earth. About the reward in Heaven I can only hope, because I don’t know exactly what it’ll be. I hope, through His mercy, that I won’t go to Hell.
I don’t know how others are, but when I heard the words:
”And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19,29)
I thought about this mathematically: I give a bread, I receive 10. I give 10 dollars to somebody poor, I shall receive 1000 lei.
Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, says:
” Will receive a hundred times ” means the richness of Christ’s grace, which is present in the souls of those who love Him “with all their heart, all their soul and all their mind” (Matthew 22,39)
Mathematical calculation doesn’t really make any sense, because there are a lot of times when we can give non-material things: forgiveness, understanding, encouragement and love. And all these can’t be measured materially, thus neither the reward can’t be estimated in a material way.
When I entered the Church, a few years, a friend of mine asked me:
“Why do you fast? Why do you help the poor? Why do you do good deeds?”
I responded sincerely: “so that I can get a reward from God and be able to go to Heaven.” This friend, who then declared herself an atheist, today having changed her opinions a lot, told me that I’m a double-faced because I do my good deeds because I have an interest, when I should be doing them out of love, without expecting a reward.
To me that answer was a cold shower, and since then I thought a lot about the motivation I have whenever I help somebody. The reward for good deeds is actually an intelligent bait to attract people to God. If you tell somebody who does not believe in God, that coming to the Church and closer to Christ, he shall be filled with God’s grace and he will go to His Kingdom, he won’t be very glad. But if you tell him that Jesus can solve his material problems, that Christ gives a reward even for a cold water glass given to the poor, then he will surely become interested.
The reward for good deeds is only a momentary motivation, to help you to go to another level: to do good deeds without any interest.
The conclusion is simple: God wants us to get to love Him. To be able to love Him, we need to listen to his commandments. And His commandments tell us to love those around us. The motivation of maintaining relations between us must be love.
At the beginning, you will only do good for the reward which God gives you. And he will give it to you! But then you will notice that the reward can’t motivate you to do bigger things. The reward limits you in your doing of good deeds.
Who forgives to whom has made a mistake for the reward in the Kingdom of God? Who gives up his good to the good of those around him, waiting for a reward? Who gives his life for his friend, having as a motivation only the reward? Very few or basically nobody. These things are done from unconditional love.
Love will motivate you to do even more that you ever imagined. Every good deed done for a reward will give you the impression that you did enough, and that you deserve a big reward. Every good deed done out of love will give you the impression that you can give even more, that you could have done more.
The verse from “The First Epistle to the Corinthians”, where Saint Paul the Apostle says that whatever you give and whatever you have, if you don’t have love, you are nothing. You might think that giving all your riches to the poor you will receive a reward in Heaven. Paul says it isn’t enough if you don’t also have love. You might think that being the most intelligent person and giving advice to others you shall be rewarded, but Paul reminds us that without love you can’t do anything good.
Love is the biggest gift you can give to somebody. Your love showed to another gives birth to love in his heart. Your love towards those around you is greeted by God’s love to both of you.
Yes, God does give hundredfold, but not the way we think. Not anytime and not anywhere. Christ will give you back more when you don’t expect the reward.
Who has hope in Christ only for this life is absolutely wrong.
God watches the heart of the person when he does a good deed, he sees his motivation.
Saint Basil the Great used to say that man can be characterized in three ways, depending on the good deed that he does:
1. if he does it out of fear of hell, it enslaves him
2. if he does it in order to be re-paid here, he will be enslaved in this life
3. if he does the good deed without wanting anything, but because of love of God, that will make the man a son of God.
Saint Isaac the Syrian says that: “wisdom has two heads: at one head, the fear of God and at the other the love of God. The good deed starts with the fear of God and ends with the love of God.” Also, Saint Isaac the Syrian: “happy is the man who knows his helplessness, because this knowledge will become the foundation, root and starting point of all good deeds.”
Saint Efrem the Syrian: “God doesn’t look at how big is the gift you give, but at the will with which you bring it.”
Saint Isidor, the apprentice of Saint John Chrysostom, who has written thousands of epistles to the Church of Christ, says: “when in man the word and good deed shall become one, they will make man the icon of all philosophy.”
Translated by Costin Matei