Scripture Reading: Luke 19:1-27
About a third of Protestant churchgoers say their congregation teaches that God will bless them if they donate money. Two-thirds say God wants them to prosper. One in 4 say they have to do something for God to receive material blessings in return.
Churchgoers who have evangelical beliefs (75%) are more likely to agree God wants them to prosper than those without evangelical beliefs (63%).
In another study, 1 in 4 Americans said they believe God will always reward true faith with material blessings. Americans who hold evangelical beliefs were most likely to agree with that statement and appear to be to the most eager to embrace a link between God’s financial blessings and their actions.
Vegetables and dessert—Flesh acts have an immediate happy payoff then long term regret and guilt. Spiritual things don’t have an immediate payoff but long term awesome benefits. God promises dessert. In NT it’s eternal and delayed.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
1 Corinthians 3:13-14
Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Crowns--Stefanos—a prize, a symbol of honor. A mark of exalted rank. An ornament of honor. Diadem is for a king, this is for a conqueror.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
Paul continually, habitually loved the Lord’s appearing in contrast with verse 10—Demas forsook Paul having loved this present world.
1 Corinthians 9:25-27
And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Paul exerts effort because he’s looking at a reward.
Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Refers to persecution, even martyrdom.
1 Peter 5:2-4
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock.4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Given at appearing of the Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 2:19-20
For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?20 For ye are our glory and joy.
Here Paul seems to say the people are his crown, showing that the crown may not actually refer to an actual crown.
The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities. And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds. And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.