Bible Answer

Can pursuit of eternal rewards become our “idol?”

After listening to your teaching on pursuing eternal rewards, I wonder if Christians can become so interested in obtaining eternal treasure that this pursuit becomes their "idol?"

Can a Christian become too desiring of earning Heavenly treasure? If so, we can only say "Amen"! If only every Christian would live this way!

First, an idol is anything that steals our devotion and love away from Jesus, but pursuing eternal rewards by serving Jesus naturally requires that we devote more of our attention to Jesus. It is literally impossible to make the pursuit of eternal rewards an idol. They are mutually exclusive because the more we seek to please Jesus for reward, the more we are putting away idols. 

Secondly, the entire reason Christ offers rewards to those who please Him is to motivate Christians to good behavior. The Christian who makes the most of this opportunity by allowing it to motivate him or her into selfless living for Christ is doing exactly as Christ intended. Simply put, you can't please Christ "too much." We would no more criticize a Christian for seeking to please Christ than we would criticize children for seeking to please their parents. 

Finally, we counsel against any thought of judging another Christian for his or her pursuit of Christ, as the Scripture says:

1Pet. 1:17  If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth;
James 5:7  Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.
James 5:8 You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.
James 5:9 Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.
1Cor. 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

The tendency to judge another Christian's motives or manner of service to Christ is not proper or biblical. As the Scriptures above say, we are not to judge another Christian's heart in how or why they serve Jesus.

At times, another Christian's strong passion to serve Christ may convicts us and cause us to recognize that we are not doing enough to serve Jesus ourselves. That conviction should cause us to repent and do more to please Christ, but if we respond to our conviction by pressuring other Christians to serve Jesus less (so we can feel better about our own lack of service), then we are compounding our sin and hurting other believers. This is the danger of judging other believers' service to Jesus.

The Bible says clearly that we should not judge another Christian's passionate service to Jesus or mislabel it as "idolatry." Instead, we should allow it to convict us into becoming better servants of Christ ourselves and let us model ourselves after those mature Christians who have turned to a life of serving Jesus in the expectation of His reward. 

Remember, the definition of a pleasing faith includes the expectation of reward:

Heb. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.