“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11–12

You may hear someone say, “You may not receive much for your labor for God on earth, but the benefits are out of this world!” The declaration is certainly true, but did you ever consider that God’s incentives for faithful living are also for today? It is not selfish, misguided thinking, nor fleshly to anticipate such a blessing.

Truth be told, while trying to live holy in the midst of a sin-choked world life can become pretty bleak both in the growing haze of spiritual battle or being subjected to the warped opinions of sin-stunted judgment. It is a comfort to know that God has revealed great incentives to keep you in the fight for right and to keep you standing despite the withering fire of blind critics.

Be reminded that what God protects you from is a real incentive in itself. No matter what you face you are protected from what you truly deserve. Psalm 103:10 states, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” Every moment of every day a believer is covered by the vicarious suffering of Jesus Christ, our judgment has already been levied upon Him (2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:9).

Additionally, do not diminish in your estimation of the glory of eternal reward. You have probably spent time studying the crowns promised to overcoming saints (2 Timothy 4:8, 1 Peter 5:4, Revelation 2:10, James 1:12, 1 Corinthians 9:25). Revelation 14:13 reads, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. ‘Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” 1 Corinthians 3:8 tells us, “Each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” Colossians 3:23f underlines this incentive, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.”

One of the greatest rewards that awaits every Christian is beholding the majesty of God. Psalm 17:15 says, “As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.” Revelation 22:3ff reveals, “And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light.” Verse 12 continues, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to give to every one according to his work” (Romans 8:18).

Perhaps the greatest incentive every authentic believer possesses is the one least remembered in the midst of a trial, the fact of eternal life as a present possession. (John 3:16) You will never cease to exist, no matter what the enemy throws at you. In John 11:25f, Jesus states, “I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die, Do you believe this?” This ironclad promise is a great reservoir of hope and courage for every believer in difficult straits.

The Bible lists other present-day incentives for you. Psalm 23 covers many incentives. It includes being shepherded, being provided for, being led, being restored, experiencing the presence of God, and His encouragement. The psalm ends with these unforgettable words, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.” His goodness and mercy pursuing you are constant sources of incentive. Psalm 16:11 explains the incentive of His presence, “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Today you have access to abiding joy!

Psalm 19:11 gives this present-day incentive: “moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward.” Not only does God’s blessing rest upon those who obey His Word, but obedience to His commands always preserves (Proverbs 1:7, John 15:1¬–11) and is a reward in itself. Closely allied with the blessing of obedience is the reward of a clear conscience (something inestimable in its value—Hebrews 10:19ff), and the peace of God (Romans 5:1, Philippians 4:7).

Other incentives include the good reward of honest labor (Ecclesiastes 4:9), the rewards of sowing righteousness (Proverbs 11:18), children (Psalm 127:3), the reward of knowing what to say or do (Colossians 4:5f, 2 Timothy 2:15), and the promise that God keeps the books and even rewards for simply giving a cup of water according to Mark 9:41, “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward” (Matthew 10:41f).

When God reminds us to make sure that we do not lose our reward in passages like 2 John 8 and Colossians 2:18, I do not believe it is just the loss of opportunity to gain greater reward for Christ in eternity, it is also the loss of rewards gained through everyday mindfulness and faithfulness. Trust and obey.