Why do religious people do the things we do? For reward? Yes. As much as we are reluctant to admit it, we want a profit. I give, I get. What do I want to get? The answer to that question will make all the difference on how I give.
Matthew 6:1-4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. (2) “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (3) But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, (4) so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The problem is not that we want reward; that is built in by God. When we are hungry we think about how to get food. When we get it, we get rewarded with… satisfaction. What is our food? What do we value? The next few examples in Matthew 6 are about seeking rewards. We are tempted to crave the attention of people. If that is what we hunger for we will do things like giving in such a way as to be seen and rewarded with compliments, status and so on. What is a better motivation for giving? The reward of seeing what is wrong made right. Those who give resources or service for no other reason than they want to see God’s right replace the world’s wrong, they are blessed. How? They are thinking and living like they should, for one. How else? The Father will be the source of our affirmation, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Faithful in little? Be in charge of much.”
More basically we are rewarded by the innate satisfaction of doing what we were meant to do. When we serve those who suffer from conditions of a world that is not right, we mover towards righteousness. That is what we are meant for; and it feels like it.
Blessed (living the right way) are those who are craving righteousness enough to just do what helps affect the problem regardless of whether they get noticed; they will be satisfied.