We have sat for hours at football games, wrestling tournaments, and archery competitions, with track season still ahead of us. As our grandchildren succeed in their sports, we see the other side: the dedication and discipline it takes to make it to state competitions and be noticed by college scouts. No young person enters the winner's circle without the private discipline of self-sacrifice and hard work.
Christian, if we expect to receive reward, there must also be the unseen discipline of self-sacrifice, not working for our salvation but because of our salvation. The Lord's promise is for those who serve in secret.
Jesus teaches us, "That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. . . 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. . .That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly" (Matthew 6:4, 6, 18).
We are to do three things secretly: give, pray, and fast. And the promise is of open reward. Matthew Henry writes, "The reward will be open; they have it honorably." Honorably, because they have used discipline and followed the commands of God. Just as the athlete disciplines his body and follows the coach's instruction to a successful outcome, we, too, may be assured of open reward as we do the same.
And what does an open reward look like? Psalm 23:5 gives us a hint. "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies." God's favor is a reward. He displays it before our enemies by blessing our lives. Open reward is seeing our prayers answered. Tangible or visible blessings upon our ministry, work, family, or business may also be considered reward. God knows how to reward us; when He does, we recognize it and give Him thanks and praise.
The reward can seem far away when we are in the secret place. But just as the athlete trains secretly, we must remember God's promise and remain faithful, consistent, and believing.
Two verses come to my mind. "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Hebrews 6:10). God sees your secret life. He has not and will not forget you.
And, "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise" (Hebrews 10:35 36). The perseverance of the saints has great recompense of reward. Recompense means payment of something due.
God will keep His promise of reward to those who follow His commands about their secret life. Never doubt it, Christian. There is a reward for the children of God both here and in eternity.