This is a tricky subject and I pray I can do it some justice . . . .
"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary."--Gal. 6:9
This life is about rewards. If it were not, there would be no point in it. Is it not clearly the case that everything we do, we do to achieve a certain result? The Zen practitioners especially seek to escape this reality by attempting to kill desire--cause and effect--by obliterating the self through determined meditation on "nothingness." But they cannot escape the fact. For in their very attempt they are trying to achieve a certain desired result, even if they call that result or goal "nothingness."
The Christian Way is altogether different and superior above all. Yes, there is a death to "self" . . . but only so that God's intended self for you can exist.
One self must die so that a new self can be born and thrive. It is not intended that your individual self be obliterated so that some vast impersonal self is all there is. Such an idea and practice is an affront to the Creator. He deliberately created individuals, each one unique and special in His creation and to destroy any one of them is an assault against His will and purposes.
A story is playing out and the divine script says that we each have a fallen self which is only a mere, dark, vague, warped version of our true and ultimate self. Because we have no wisdom and no goodness in us, we abandon our own attempts to seek perfection and throw ourselves onto the mercy of the Lord, and then HE begins a wholesale transformation, renewal and eventual replacement of our self.
Within this process . . . He has magnanimously provided that we are able to experience a relative degree of individual, free will effort.
By grace alone are we saved . . . and in this we are equals, with no demerits; as in, when we arrive into the full Kingdom of God--there will be no sense that someone is lessor . . . in the Kingdom. Not like here where we can look at people and say "this one has less" and so we feel sorry for them, or "that one has more" and there is envy . . . . No, in Heaven ALL will be restored to complete, satisfying, glorious composure and there will be no sorrow or envy.
AND ALSO . . . there will be added reward resulting from the works we do here, now, while in the flesh and in this fallen state.
"Store your treasures in Heaven . . . . "
"Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again."
"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously."
We are encouraged to DO . . . to ACT . . . from our salvation . . . and told that if we do it WILL be acknowledged and rewarded by God. But if we do for the praise of men, then it is dead--NOT a treasure stored in Heaven, but sown in the fallen world which world is destined for destruction.
Those whom the Lord has brought deeper into grace . . .do good works without thinking. It has become a natural, almost instinctive compulsion in them . . . to do good at every turn. It is just who they are.
But not all of us are there yet. We still have inclinations to do things to benefit first our self . . . and then, if we can finesse it so that it also helps someone else, great!
Well, do not fret. He is a most merciful Lord. He has made it so that, even if we don't feel like doing a good work, nevertheless . . . if we force our own hand, against our fallen nature--because, regardless of our feelings or inclination we believe and have faith that we SHOULD and thus obey--such efforts will be counted in our favor. Not to please man, of course, or to show off to the church or the world. But to show God that our faith is with Him, DESPITE the present condition of our Walk . . . .
We all are born with an innate desire to please, and this should not be crushed or destroyed as, ie., the Buddhists or Nihilists or Existentialists would have us do. Rather, we take that desire to please and wholly focus it on pleasing God.
We also have a natural, created desire to achieve, to progress, to see fruits of our labor.
This too should not be ignored or "renounced."
Rather, it is to simply and directly and completely be used--put to work--in the labors of the Kingdom.
Go ahead and embrace your need to succeed, to be secure, to acquire, to be "the best" you can be. Just have all of that innate drive--with which all are born to various degrees--directed towards your mansion in Heaven! Of course, in this world that will mean that you become a servant . . . a giver . . . longsuffering . . . a lover of your enemy . . . a turner of the other cheek . . . one who endures . . . .
You will suffer many abuses for His Name's sake. You will pray and tithe and serve and love . . . mostly secretly so that the world will hardly notice your good works, and may even call them evil or foolish.
But the Lord has made it clear in His Word that your works will be accounted for and that you are to find joy and purpose in their multiplying.
And so do not grow weary in doing good . . . do not lose heart even when He is rebuking you through some phase of trial . . . . Endure . . . endure . . . for you are meant to succeed in the highest, most perfect sense . . . . And He says give yourself FULLY to the work of the Lord . . . and that it will NOT be in vain--this you can count on! There WILL be divine, glorious, perfect, awesome RESULTS from ALL that you do in and for Him.
We all are created with a need . . . to succeed . . . .
It is just a question of . . . to what end?
To an end that is part of the fallen, doomed to fail world of man?
Or to the guaranteed, willed to eternal glory . . . Kingdom of God?
I must say, it thrills me . . . to know . . . that I have life left to live . . . the next few minutes . . . hours . . . days . . . months or years--whatever He wishes . . . AND THAT there is opportunity to WORK in the vineyard, to store up treasures in Heaven . . . to know that my Master is watching, noting and will reward me. HE placed this desire to please and prosper in my soul . . . . The devil tried to twist it to his fallen ends . . . . The Lord came down and saved me and places in my heart to desire HIS perfect end!
Nothing could be better!