Jeremiah, 580 B.C. wrote: “Your eyes are open to all the ways of man; you reward everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve,” (Jer.32: 19). Jesus held that there were two kinds of rewards, a public recognition and an unrecognized act of having done what was right. One seeks to gain the praise of man the other wants to remain unanimous. For the latter there is a reward in heaven (Mt.5: 12) and a personal recognition by Jesus (Mt.25: 34-40).
We live in a world with two sets of rules, one for the elite or those in power and a second one for the people, particularly those that oppose the power. The same is true of religious leaders and their people (Mt.23: 3-7). They camp under the umbrella of God’s grace and presume that Christ has taken care of their transgressions past, present and future; but their conduct and deeds are a public showing. They measure their success by the crowds that applaud them and by their material abundance obtained from their people for the promise that they make in behalf of Christ that they shall be rewarded in heaven. Salvation, regardless of conduct and deeds, is like a family tie that cannot be broken. Thus, so many can enjoy both ends of the spectrum.
Jesus expects us to be different from the world (Jn.17: 16). We shall be rewarded for seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness (Mt.6: 33). Righteousness was not a matter of following traditions, but of obeying the Laws of God (Mt.15: 3). The public does not need to know when we help the needy, when we pray or fast (Mt.6: 2-6; 16-18). Such outbursts of self-praise and public acclamation shall be our only reward (Mt.6: 2-6; 16-18). God rewards those that do not draw public attention (Mt.6: 4, 6, 18). Jesus did not endorse the prayer of a self-righteous Pharisee but a sinners’ admission of guilt (Lk.18: 10-14). We serve a strange Lord. He rewards us for admitting that we did wrong and are willing to do better.