Is My Pursuit of God’s Kingdom Self-serving?

After reading my previous post, you might question whether it is a proper motive to pursue the kingdom of God with the expectation that everything we need would be given to us as well. I have encountered some critics that said that Christians often do good with the expectation of being rewarded in heaven, and that it is not a pure motive, but self-serving. I thought they had a good point, and I felt guilty for expecting being rewarded by God for the good deeds I have done. But now I have realized that that guilt trip was not spiritually correct at all.

God created us with the desire to be rewarded. Whatever we do, we do it for a reward. The problem is not whether we are rewarded, but how we are rewarded. When I tried to do good without expecting a reward, I get rewarded to impress my critics, or myself. The underlying motive behind not to be rewarded in some way for doing good deeds is pride. It’s true that we should not expect a return or reward from the person we do the good deed to, but expecting reward from God in some way is in fact a refusal to play gods ourselves. Doing good deeds for rewards from God is just being human.

It’s humbling to allow God to provide, just like the first verse of Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shell not want.” Otherwise, I would be writing Psalm 23 like this, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I sacrifice everything to follow him.” Does it sound impressive, or arrogant? There’s nothing wrong for a sheep to be provided by the shepherd. There’s nothing wrong to be rewarded as long as the reward comes from the proper source. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing the kingdom of God and being given “all these things.” Otherwise, we would be pursuing the kingdom of “me.”

It’s also a great stress reliever to expect God’s reward. How much energy have we wasted in life by suppressing our desire to be rewarded, holding up our pride, and pretending that we are fine? Sometimes the best stress relief is to pray the prayer of the thief hung on the cross next to Jesus, “Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42) This man hadn’t given God anything, but was asking for something he did not deserve. Sometimes I think we over emphasize giving God.

In fact, we can’t give God anything because he has everything. We can only give to the poor. When we come to the kingdom, we can only receive. When we are in God’s presence, we have no choice but self-serving, or we will be scolded like Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Unless we allow God to provide or to serve us we don’t belong to God’s kingdom because at that moment we belong to our own kingdom of pride. For those who allow God to provide, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)


Image credit: A Syed


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Cultivate Your Life

Only a cultivated life becomes fruitful, only a fruitful life glorifies God, and only a God-glorifying life is worth living!" ~ Sam Stone

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