One of the concepts that C.S. Lewis used regularly as a literary device was that of Mercenary Rewards.
The mercenary, for Lewis, was the perfect symbol of someone who doesn’t act for true love or desire for the thing itself, but for the reward he receives – much like mercenaries don’t care about the cause of a war, only the spoils.
One of the problems with how we tend to approach God is that we often embody the mercenary. Instead of realizing that God himself is our salvation, we ask for stuff we believe will save us. Instead of realizing that He is what we desire, we seek spoils.
“A joy there is that is not granted to the godless,” prays St. Augustine in his Confessions, “but to those only who worship you without looking for reward, because you yourself are their joy.” He adds, “This is the happy life, and this alone: to rejoice in you, about you and because of you. This is the life of happiness, and it is not to be found anywhere else.”
When we seek mercenary rewards from God, it betrays our nationality, our hypocrisy and our theology.
When we love God truly, we will, as scripture exhorts, delight ourselves in the Lord and rejoice in the Lord – not as mercenaries, but with undivided hearts.
Which do you desire more, God or what God can give?