Thursday, July 29, 2010

Expectation of Reward Part One

6:19 p.m. Today's project was to enjoy lunch with Steve after our ladies' home Bible study and then take our Labrador retriever Jada to the veterinarian at the Riverside Animal Hospital. She has had a sore on her left ear that we have repeatedly treated with medicine the vet gate us last year when the irritation first occurred. Seems she gets fly bites, and the flies then attack and irritate the bite, in a kind of vicious circle. We liberally spray both dogs with their own fly repellent, but a few of the stubborn pests zero in on the target anyway. Then her buddy Bailey, our other lab, tries to soothe the sore by licking it, as dogs do for one another, but it probably was no help, since Bailey licks off the ointment!!

I wasn't relishing driving down there with the dog in my precious Jeep--just kidding--especially with the air conditioning on the blink since Tuesday. It had to be over 100 degrees this afternoon. But since this was the first free afternoon we'd had so far, today was the day. We try to be wise stewards with the pets the Lord has blessed us with, and also to be mindful of Proverbs 12:10, "A righteous man regards the life of his animals." For the joy, fun, comic relief, protection, companionship and affection our dogs provide, and now especially, therapy for Steve in his Alzheimer's, we can at least care for their health!

So people and dogs enjoy a "mutual benefit" society. Both parties have positive expectations for the other and give back in return. Kind of like marriage, isn't it? We give good loving efforts, and ideally, we also get such in return. It brings to mind a Facebook question my son Kriss posted this afternoon:

"Is there such a thing as a truly selfless good deed (currently)? Because I think that everyone does things with at least a small expectation of rewarding results."

There were several answering comments, discussions of those who save others' lives as part of their profession, personally giving and helping others, you name the scenario; his question provoked extensive higher level interactions. I thought of my own role as a mother, for example, in which I poured out my time, talents, love and work to bring up children as unto the Lord. No one had to tell me to feed, clean, dress, cuddle, and educate my children. Normal maternal affection and devotion dictated those actions, and I certainly didn't expect "thank you's," although the words are as wonderful to hear these days as they were when the kids were little.

But I did have an expectation of reward--the development of honorable, God-fearing adults who would contribute to society (otherwise known as "delayed gratification"). What about friendships? We give out of love for another person, but unless they show some reciprocal action, that friendship will wither. Reciprocal action from a distant friend would be a letter or phone call; from a friend in town, it might be an invite to have coffee or see a movie. And we would return the favor in our own way. Marriage is the same--we reciprocally benefit one another. We expect a reward for our efforts!

As the very thoughtful comments continued to post, the question lingered: is there ever a purely selfless act? Even some acknowledgent of one's heroic or sacrificial good deed is a small reward! Human beings are made this way--we work for compensation in any number of ways, if only for a sense of satisfaction. And that's not bad, not bad at all. But selfless? I think not. Romans 3:10 came to mind, so this is what I posted:

There is none righteous, no, not one.

In God's eyes, there is no selfless, righteous person--we are all sinners. All of us. The only purely righteous Person who ever walked this earth was Jesus Christ, crucified for all of our sins, then resurrected, and now at the right hand of God the Father in Heaven.

We do have access to righteous standing, however, through the sacrifical death of Jesus Christ for our salvation; if we accept His offer of forgiveness of our sins, and confess that He is the sinless Son of God, we earn the right to be seen by God the Father through HIS SON'S righteousness-- cleansed, holy, and beloved!

That's the ultimate reward!!

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