No Risk, No Reward

by Lester Young

Risk and reward are not principles limited only to Wall Street and the financial-securities industry (although on that particular playing field rewards are much more commonly called ‘returns’). No, the two are alive and kicking all around us every single day. Eying them from perhaps the most boring perspective possible, you take a risk every time you make your commute to work. And the reward for your bravery? Well… you don’t get paid if you choose not to show up. Although such risk might be considered negligible, it’s still undeniably present.

But let’s break things down further and see risk’s involvement in more basic behaviors than that. For instance, have you ever stopped to consider that you run a risk even in doing simple little things like being kind to people? C’mon, now, don’t lie – of course you’ve considered it. So have I. We’ve all hesitated just before we were about to perpetrate a random act of kindness and thought to ourselves, “What if they’re not nice back to me?” Or, “They probably won’t even acknowledge that I did anything for them!” Or maybe this old standard: “If I give him this five dollars, he’ll probably just go and buy more booze with it” – or any one of a dozen other ‘selfy’ or ‘judgy’ sentiments we’ve all entertained before.

And you know what? Each one of those thoughts could end up being right on the money, as far as the situation’s outcome is concerned. That person may not be nice in return or even acknowledge you – and you might stand there and watch the guy walk down to the liquor store on the next block. It’s true: you do roll the dice when you choose to be kind to someone with no strings attached. You could end up getting absolutely nothing in return, and you could lose completely whatever it is you’ve given. But when you’re dealing with ‘free wills,’ it’s an inherent risk that can’t be circumvented… by anyone!

Yes, it’s risky to be kind – just ask Jesus. Titus 3:4 declares that Jesus is the embodiment of God’s kindness and love toward you and me. He showed up in kindness and stayed right there – even as the risks of being merciful and kind to thankless people were fully borne out. How did He do that? By not focusing on those risks and the treatment He was enduring, but looking past them and locking His attention on the “joy” He knew was coming – in other words, by setting His affection on the reward (Hebrews 12:2).

But now the $64,000 question: Why would He do it? Why risk so much? Well, we know that the Lord Jesus would do only the will of His Father (Psalm 40:7-8; John 4:34, 8:29; Hebrews 10:7). So we have to realize and incorporate into our understanding the fact that God – along with Jesus – was also facing an absolutely tremendous amount of risk.

You may be thinking, “God?? Facing risk?? How could God actually lose anything?!” Well, consider that He lost the Man He created, and all the offspring after him – the family He’d so intensely wanted (Genesis 1:26, 2). And because God had already given him dominion over everything else He’d made, He lost all that, too (Genesis 1:28; Psalm 8:6). No one else in existence has ever lost so much.

And here’s another morsel to chew on: Remember I mentioned earlier that ‘free wills’ can’t be circumvented by anybody? That ‘anybody’ includes God, too. He endowed us with that free will when He made us and He will not override it (Genesis 1:27; Exodus 3:14) – which automatically means Jesus our Lord could have exercised His free will and rightfully not gone through with dying as a Substitute for you and me (Matthew 26:39, 53-54). Or, He could have exercised His free will and just committed some sin, and thus payed the ultimate price for Himself (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23) – thereby leaving us to pay our own personal bills ourselves (Colossians 2:14). Either way, an incalculable loss for God (not to mention for us). So, yes, God faced big risk. But I digress…

Back to the question of “Why take such a risk?” 1 Corinthians 13:5 tells us that Love doesn’t insist on its own rights or its own way, because it’s not ‘self’-seeking (Amplified). So He doesn’t care about the risks to Himself; He only cares about the prize that lies ahead. Love doesn’t look at and calculate all that He might lose; He only looks at – and believes for – everything He’s going to win (1 Corinthians 13:7). God knew that if He didn’t take the risk, there would be no reward – no ‘return’. The risk was sooo great because the Price was just that steep. God sent Jesus, and They took the risk because They wanted us back just that badly (John 3:16-17). They disregarded the risk because they counted the Reward worth it. You and I are that Reward. Thank Him today.


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