“They Have Abstained from their Reward” – ἀπέχω

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God’s grace never ceases to amaze me. In my morning study I was in Matthew 16 and got to verse 27 which said “give reward,” so naturally I wanted to see what was behind that in the Greek. As I started looking closer at different verses regarding rewards, I came to Matthew 6:2 which says,

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full…”

The same idea is repeated by Jesus in Matthew 6:5 and Matthew 6:16.

As I looked at this phrase “they have received their reward in full,” I noticed that the usual word for received, λαμβάνω, was not used in this verse. Instead, it is the word ἀπέχω. Immediately I noticed that this word is from two smaller Greek words ἀπ and έχω, literally meaning “I hold from.”

Sure enough, I looked at the definition of the word, as well as the other verses where this word is used, and it means “to abstain” from something. Here’s an example.

“You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell.” – Acts 15:29

Okay, so let’s insert this into the text (I have a 3 year old at home, so I’m picturing Super Why zapping this into the text)

““So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have abstained from their reward …”

Do you see the language of gift here? To abstain from something means that it is available to you, but you choose to not avail yourself of that something.

In this case, the something was the reward.

Eternal life is not the only gift that God has given you my Christian friends. Everything that God has to give He has given. We have been blessed as believers with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

The question, right now, and in the end, will be, which gifts have we “availed” ourselves of? Which gifts have we “abstained” from?