Born over sixty years ago in Yugoslavia, she responded to God’s call on her life while still a teenager. A missionary’s strong challenge to give her life to teaching in India resulted in her appointment to the city of Calcutta.
Some months later she saw a sight which completely revolutionized her life, and would ultimately bring her world-wide fame as Good Housekeeping magazine’s “Most-Admired-Woman” selection. What was the sight? A homeless, dying woman lying in the gutter, being eaten by rats. Compassion compelled her to beg an abandoned Hindu temple from the government, and convert it into a crude make-shift hospital for the dying. A comment of her’s became her life’s thrust: “If there is a God in heaven, and a Christ we love, nobody should die alone.”
This woman who established colonies for over 10,000 lepers in 28 cities was interviewed by Malcolm Muggeridge from the BBC News. “Mother Teresa, the thing I noticed about you and the hundreds of sisters who now form your team is that you all look so happy. Is that a put-on?” She replied, “Oh no, not at all. Nothing makes you happier than when you really reach out in mercy to someone who is badly hurt. Service is its own reward. True mercy begets genuine joy. (Robert Schuller, The Be-Happy Attitudes, pages 135-137. Bantam Books, Reissue edition (July 1, 1987).
In life most people look to be rewarded when they do something well. A sports team looks to receive a trophy. A good Samaritan longs for a thank you. An investor wants a nice return on their investment.
What Mother Teresa shows us in the illustration above is that sometimes the greatest reward is found by serving others, “service is its own reward. True mercy begets genuine joy.” The satisfaction in knowing that you are making a difference. The joy in witnessing a life once shattered finding hope.
You see, Mother Teresa and those who sacrificed for others with her were looking for a greater reward then the world could ever give. They took to heart passages in Scripture such as Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” And Galatians 6:9, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
As in all things, God’s wish for us is to focus on the rewards after our earthly life is over. He wants us to anticipate the fulfillment of His promises of a better life in heaven, free from the challenges we are forced to face in this realm.
As we wait, He wants are attitudes and wants to be geared toward service for our fellow man. He says in Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.”
This is not about works righteousness, its about a hungry heart longing to be Christ to the world. Mother Teresa wasn’t doing good works to earn anything, she simply saw a need and addressed it. In that she found her satisfaction. Her want was to be Christlike.
And in her efforts she was forced to struggle, sometimes almost loosing hope that things would ever get better or that all her efforts were for naught. Yet she persisted because it was the right thing to do. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
The reward that Mother Teresa longed for is the same reward offered to us, an everlasting life with God where the pressures, trials and weaknesses of the world no longer play a part. Mother Teresa took her love for God into the streets of India, where will you find your opportunity?
Above all we must have faith that God is good to His promises because, “Without faith it is impossible to please (God), for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Long for the rewards of faithfulness being offered to you. Do not store up for yourself treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy but keep your eyes focused on the ultimate reward, a forever reward, a life everlasting in heaven. Please pray with me:
Heavenly Father, thank you for storing up for us treasures in heaven that await us for the faithfulness we have shown. Give us strength to do Your work here on earth with our eyes forever focused on the rewards you have offered us. Amen.