This topic came up last night at Panera bread. What is the reward of living a spiritual life? Paul says,
"What then is my reward?" 1 Cor 9:18a ESV
To the intelectual crowd it might be knowledge. To the prosperity crowd gain or abundance. Those with a bad self image is might be change. To the sick it could be health. To the hopeless it might be a new start. The fallen world provides many motivators but does the end result and purpose of our life reside in anything fallen?
"Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith - that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." Phil 3:8-12 ESV
Innocence is what was lost in the garden and intimacy was what was won and Calvary and bestowed to us at Pentecost. Grace and mercy flow to us from God unhindered and the prize is living in that flow.
But there is more.
"To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." 1 Cor 9:20-23 ESV
The soul winner sees people as the prize. People who have communion with God restored. Fellowship made possible by association with believing people.
I could study all the time and gain knowledge but would that be a substitute for people? Would I trade prosperity... health... reputation... for people.
What is our prize today?
"God answered Solomon, 'Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may govern my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.' " 2 Cron 1:11-12 ESV
If we ask for wisdom to share with people in the blessing of the Gospel isn't our God Solomon's God? God may just add all kinds of other good things we aren't even seeking anymore because of His great goodness. Who knows?