There are several teachings that indicate that there will be rewards in Heaven. Most commonly this is in reference to the Bema Seat. The statement of "least" and "greatest" in heaven is a art of that belief. Being "great" would imply that you've earned it as a reward for meekness, faithfulness, humility, etc.
Excerpt from the last:
This article is essentially a continuation of The Bema or Judgment
Seat of Christ... Unfortunately many Christians, draw the conclusion
that since all our sins have been forgiven, our works cannot possibly
be considered at the judgment Seat of Christ.. Not true according to I
Introduction Rewards [mis-thos'] in the Bible means pay for service…
literally or figuratively, good or bad… exemplified by Revelation
- "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work" (Revelation 22:12).
The following two verses are one example each of good and bad.
And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes,
sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with
you; Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin;
beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous
practices; cursed children: Which have forsaken the right way, and
are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who
loved the wages of unrighteousness; [2Peter 2:13-15]
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. [1Corinthians 3:8].
The wicked are also ‘rewarded’, but this article concerns itself
solely with the ‘good’ rewards’.
Rewards Vs. Salvation It will be well to make it clear from the outset
that Salvation and Rewards are two totally different things. Salvation
is a free gift, but rewards are earned by our works after we are
saved. The Bible clearly teaches good works will not get us into
heaven. Salvation [forgiveness of sin and entrance to heaven] is
based on Jesus’ work on the cross and God shows no partiality
regarding salvation (Acts 10:34). [See Salvation].
However, the Bible also makes it clear that the saved will also
receive rewards in Heaven over and above forgiveness and eternal life,
and that the level of reward will be based on works done here on
earth. Apparently there are those that will make it to heaven, but who
have earned little or no additional rewards. Right after assuring us
that salvation is not by works in Ephesians 2, Paul says this, "We are
God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God
prepared in advance for us to do".
It is the consistent teaching of the New Testament that God promises
to reward believers for their good works… mentioned explicitly in many
"The Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works" (Matthew
"[God] will render to each one according to his deeds" (Romans 2:6).
"He who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor" (1 Corinthians 3:8).
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding (excelling) in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil
is not in vain in the Lord. [1 Corinthians 15:58]
Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people, because you know that you will receive your
inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ.
And implied in many more…
yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.
Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate
you from their company, and reproach you, and cast out your name as
evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice in that day, and leap for
joy: for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for in the same
manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are
rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you, ye that are
full now! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you, ye that laugh now! for ye
shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of
you! for in the same manner did their fathers to the false prophets.
knowing that whatsoever good thing each one doeth, the same shall he receive again from the Lord, whether he be bond or free. (Ephesians
whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the
inheritance: ye serve the Lord Christ. (Col 3:23-25).
"God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints,
and do minister" (Hebrews 6:10).
Some of the good works mentioned in Scripture which will be rewarded
- perseverance under persecution (Luke 6:22-23), caring for the needy (Matthew 25:34-36), treating enemies kindly (Luke 6:35), prayer
(Matthew 6:6), fasting (Matthew 6:18), and generous giving (Matthew