Reward as the Crown of Stewardship

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

Reward is the appreciation of the dint of hard work. It is the appreciation of someone who has borne the scorching of the sun, the bruising of work, and the sweats of hard labour to achieve an end. Reward is the prize of hard work. Reward could come in cash or kind. It could be spiritual or material.

Reward is what accrues to someone who has worked hard; while punishment is the opposite, and accrues to the person who did not work hard. Reward is the merit of hard work. Hard work itself is admirable and adorable. Hard work is benevolent. It affects us. It affects others. It affects things. It affects our environments.

Talking about the policies of one of the World's leading companies in the telecom industries - Apple, its CEO Tim Cook said "at Apple, we believe that work is not about improving your own self. It's about improving others' lives as well". Thus, human work is a game changer.

When people work hard, they change human situations; and improve on theirs and others conditions. They also get some reward for their hard work. And that is their crown. It was Justin Gregory who first taught the world that "the reward for good work is more work". But even before Justin Gregory made his statement, people were already living out what he said.

In families, for instance, parents are much at home when they assign responsibilities to those children they know would always do what they were assigned to do. The same is true in any given human society or group. Even in the Church, it is the same story: those who work hard do actually get more work. And as they get more work, so too, they get more, and more reward.

The fact is clear: the harder we work, the more reward we get. Surely, reward is the crown of hard work. It is the crown of stewardship. During our Christian sojourn on earth, we are given golden opportunities to work out our salvation. It is our responsibility to work hard for our salvation. We have to do it because, according to St Augustine, "God created us without us, but he did not will to save us without us" (Cf. CCC. n. 1847).

Reward as a crown of our stewardship is based on the fact that, all that we have and all that we are, come from that same God who has indicated He will not save us without us. In other words, the reward of our hard work on earth is eternal life in heaven. God rewards everyone according to his/her own efforts in claiming salvation (Romans 2: 5-7; Colossians 3: 23-24).

Jesus Himself taught the same truth in the Parable of the Talent. Each person is truly repaid according to his/her work (Matthew 25: 21ff). However, if we work hard to obtain our salvation, we should be careful not to be boastful about it as if all depended upon us. It is actually by God's grace that we are saved. As humans our hard work has limitations.

And because of these limitations, it cannot achieve our salvation. If our hard work is put on any scale of balance, it will surely fall short of requirements. That is why the grace of God is necessary for our salvation because it covers all those shortcomings, and then, wins our salvation for us. We are save by God's grace (Ephesians 2: 8-9). But we also work hard to achieve it.

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