Do you ever get discouraged when you observe people who don’t care for anyone other than themselves seemingly experiencing continued success? It may seem that just about everything goes their way! It's almost as if the world rewards those who mirror its values. Then there are the nameless masses who often go unnoticed, whose random acts of kindness appear unrewarded or unrecognized. We are told that "nice guys finish last" because if you want to win, you must always look out for yourself and not worry about who you step on along the way. It gets even more discouraging when it seems that God isn't paying attention either.
Yet, Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God “is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Make no mistake, God will reward those who live their lives for His glory, even if on this earth they never get any acknowledgement or pat on the back. Paul reminds us:
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Galatians 6:7-9).
Even if you think that no one is paying attention to how you live your life now, know that God is definitely paying attention. He will not be mocked because no one can pull a fast one on Him! One day, He will reward all of us for the way we lived our lives.
I think the confusion comes when people expect to reap what they sow in their timing. God's eternal perspective and our temporal perspective are often in stark contrast. We want to see the fruit of our labor now, but God doesn't promise that we will reap our harvest right away. Often, God just wants us to grow in faithfulness before we see results.
The truth is that God might not even reward us in this lifetime! If you read Hebrews chapter 11, the author provides a long list of godly men and women who never lived to see the fruit that sprang from the seeds they planted in faith. And Jesus Himself reminds us not to get caught up in looking for rewards on this earth by saying, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).
The other interesting thing that Paul points out is that we should not grow weary in doing good, "for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." It's so easy to lose heart though! Have you ever prayed for something for years to no apparent avail? I have. I think we all have at one point or another. But God is watching and He is keeping tabs on who lives their lives for Him and who doesn't. Just like those heroes in Hebrews 11, we need to remain faithful and trust in God's timing. The key is not to lose heart and don’t give up!
It reminds me of a story about a man who owned a seemingly worthless piece of vacant land. Every year he complained and talked about how much that piece of property was costing him. Finally, he decided to sell it and be rid of it once and for all. He sold it to someone for a steal. Over time, that little city began to experience growth. Businesses started coming in and people began to move there in droves. One day, a housing developer offered to buy that piece of vacant land, along with the adjoining vacant land, so that they could build a large housing development on it. The new owner (who only owned the property for a couple years) sold it for quadruple the price that he bought it for. When the original owner found out, all he could think about was what if he had just held onto that vacant piece of land for a couple years longer!
That is what living a godly life is sometimes like. There will be times when it seems that we are just spinning our wheels and nobody notices or cares. It is tempting to just throw in the towel and join the crowd that is living for the flesh! But God is telling us not to lose heart! Stay faithful, pray for others, and keep loving with the heart of Jesus!
In my life, the longest I’ve prayed for something before God answered was seven years. Believe me, by the seventh year I was convinced that God was unconcerned and dismissive of my prayers. But then He answered them and everything miraculously changed! I know there are people who have remained faithful much longer than that before they enjoyed reaping what they sowed. Then there are some people who don't have to wait very long at all. Everyone’s journey is unique. Most of us will experience both extremes over the course of our lives. The point is to keep serving God because He will not be mocked, and one day, all of us will reap what we've sown.