Our society seems preoccupied with the idea that everyone who participates in some event, class, or activity should receive the same reward. If they do not, the complaint is that they ‘feel bad’ or ‘left out’ and that it is wrong to reward only those who win the contest or finish their work correctly. Yet the Bible teaches clearly the idea of rewarding the good and punishing the bad. That is what heaven and hell are all about.
In the beginning, God made a covenant with Adam that if obeyed, he would be cared for, and if he disobeyed that he would ‘surely die’. (Gen 2:17) God gave Israel laws and told them that he would reward them for obeying and punish them when they disobeyed. (Deut 28:9-15) Abel had his sacrifice accepted, while Cain’s was rejected. Cain had his feelings hurt, but God was more concerned with his spiritual state than his feelings. God told Cain in Gen 4:6-7 “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”
Paul writes in 1Cor 9:24-25. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Paul points out that we must do whatever is necessary to receive the prize of salvation. It is not given to everyone who shows up for the race, but to the one who makes the effort to win it.
The idea of rewarding everyone equally, regardless of how they do is anti-God. It stifles any incentive to try to improve, to increase our abilities, or perform better. The scriptures tell us to “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.” (Luke 13:24) and again “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to the things that we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb 2:1-2)
Teaching a child that they will be rewarded equally no matter what they do is rooted is the devil’s lie to program out heaven’s rewards and hell’s punishment. One who has grown up with the “fairness doctrine” of rewards will reject God’s authority to Judge or have the opinion that ‘we are all going to be in heaven anyway, because that would only be fair- God wouldn’t condemn some people to an eternity of punishment. He is too good and loving.’ We see this attitude throughout our society today. Not only is God’s authority to judge questioned, but all authority is being rejected. There will be many at judgment who will be very surprised at their eternal home. Jesus said in Matt 7:21. “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.