When I was a young woman, I could not grasp the concept of Galatians 6:9 that says, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” That verse made little sense to me. “How does one grow weary of doing good? You just do it!” I thought.
Well the other day, I came to terms with that verse when my brother-in-law asked for a German Chocolate cake for his birthday. I had never made German Chocolate cake from scratch before, so when I agreed I didn’t know what the process entailed. I searched Pinterest and Facebook for recipes, but then I settled on the Willard Family German Chocolate Cake formula from AllRecipes.com. At first, I laughed at the two hours and twenty minutes set on the instructions. “How can this cake take that much time? It must be a typo,” I told myself.
Well, at 9:00 AM the next morning, I dove into the world of German Chocolate cake. I purchased the chocolate, scoured the cupboards and the fridge for the ingredients, and then prepared the pans for baking. I preheated the oven and then hoisted the Kitchen Aid to the counter. Methodically, I followed every step. A half-hour passed as I melted the chocolate and beat the butter and sugar, but I didn’t worry. Then I separated each egg and added them one at a time as the one-hour mark caught my eye. I measured the dry ingredients as another half-hour ticked away.
I grew tired. “For Pete’s sake it’s just a cake,” I said. As the three-hour mark came around, I felt like dumping the whole batter and buying a cake at the market. But I was already towards the end, and I didn’t want to waste my money and time.
Well, six hours later, at 3:00 PM, I finished making the frosting and wrote a simple, “Happy Birthday” on the top of the cake. I felt stupid. How could a simple cake take so long to prepare? I slumped in a chair and looked at my creation. Half of me wanted to vow that I would never do that again, the other half wanted another go at it to beat the time. It was a tiresome task, but I was glad I did it.
Now, I can’t say this was the best cake that I ever made, but as I sat back—over spiritualizing a cake—I realized a few things. 1. I did it because it brought joy to my brother-in-law. 2. I kept my word. 3. God saw all that I did and will reward me for doing good.
Hebrews 6:10 says, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.”
As I looked at the stack of dishes to wash, I remembered that God had not overlooked my service. Over the years, He’s watched me crack eggs, write cards, bring food to those who had surgery, and drive friends to the hospital. God has seen it all, and, according to the Scriptures, I rested knowing He will reward me in heaven.
Reaping a reward, as noted in Galatians 6:9, seems like a strange concept. It almost feels selfish to do something kind to gain something in return. To be clear, I am not talking about earning salvation through works. I am saying that God gives us a prize to look forward to when we serve.
But why does it feel strange to say I looked forward to my reward after making a cake? In his blog entitled, “Looking Forward to the Reward,” author Tim Challies says, “It is God’s idea that there should be this close relationship between obedience and reward. God designed me and all of us in such a way that we are motivated by incentive. It’s who we are. This gives me the joy and freedom of doing the right thing because it is the right thing, and because I will receive God’s reward. The two are complementary, not in conflict. The fact is, God does not have to reward me for what I do. Instead, he chooses to and delights to.”
When I worked in the corporate world, my bosses offered bonuses for employees who exceeded the department goals. I acted upon that incentive because I wanted the reward. I helped the department clear their backlog, took the stress off the Executives, and as a result enjoyed an additional paycheck.
God doesn’t need our service to help His reputation. However, the world sees how we treat each other. As a body of believers, we unite when we come alongside those who are in need. It’s what family does for each other. And then, knowing that God delights in rewarding our efforts, should bring us joy in all we do.
I think that’s a good reason to spend hours making a German Chocolate cake.