I've been growing increasingly annoyed with the use of one particular word these days. It's a word used by many and I don't know if we've really thought this word through or not.
"You deserve a piece of chocolate after the day you had."
"Get a pedicure this weekend. You deserve it for putting up with work all week!"
"You two should totally go to New York City! You deserve some time away from the kids."
Deserve - verb
- to be worthy of (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
- do something or have or show qualities worthy of (a reaction which rewards or punishes as appropriate) (Oxford Dictionary)
- to have earned or to be given something because of the way you have behaved or the qualities you have (Cambridge Dictionary)
-to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward, assistance, punishment, etc.) because of actions, qualities, or situation (Dictionary.com)
I tried to find a Bible verse that says we deserve a temporary reward for an act of valour. This is what I found:
The labourer deserves to be paid for the work he does. (Matt 10:10, Luke 10:7, 1 Tim 5:18)
A house that accepts you is deserving of your peace (Matt 10:13)
Jesus healed the Centurion's servant, not because the Centurion deserved it, but because of his faith. (Luke 7:1-10)
And I found a boatload of other verses that talk about other things we deserve:
"The wages of sin is death" Rom 6:23a NIV
"Know therefore that God exacts from you less than your iniquity deserves." Job 11:6 NKJV
"Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." Romans 1:32 NIV
"We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve..." Luke 23:41 (Spoken by one of the thieves hanging on a cross beside Jesus.)
There were many more that spoke of an enemy deserving death for sin.
So what do we deserve?
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." Colossians 3:23-24
"... but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23b
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6
But you have to keep reading to see what the reward is...
"All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. ...they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one." [parts of] Hebrews 11:13-16
In the Bible, every reward for good work is an eternal reward. There isn't an earthly temporary reward for doing the good that know we should do.
Why do I deserve chocolate or a pedicure or a vacation? Because I chose to get married and have kids? Because I went out and did something to provide for my family? Because I had to talk to someone who doesn't typically think logically about things? That's part of life. It's what everyone has to deal with. Yep, sometimes "going to work" is no fun. Who ever says they're "going to easy"? It's called "work" for a reason.
In Ecclesiastes, Solomon writes about how work/toil is meaningless. But hidden in his rant is a little ray of sunshine: "A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?" (Ecc 2:24-25) If you're finding life to be stressful or difficult, realize that your work is for God, not for man. (See Col 3:23-24 above if you forgot about that already.) Find enjoyment in serving His big purpose for this world. Are you weary of trying to keep up with the demands of this life? Bring it to Jesus. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28
Sure indulge in some chocolate. Paint your nails. Take a vacation. The Bible encourages rest. But don't tell people that you deserve it. You deserve a lot more than that. Thank God for Jesus!