Adapted from "Our Sunday School Scrap Book," by Daniel Wise, 1866.
A reward for specified mental tasks can never be made equal or fair, because the power to perform such tasks is nowhere equally distributed. Fifty verses are more easily committed to memory by one child than five by another. Where, then, is the justice of rewarding the former and not the latter.
Rewards for external performances are not morally safe. "Say your prayers and I will give you a treat," said a thoughtless mother to her child one day. Would not such a reward encourage hypocrisy rather than godliness? Isn't it so with all rewards given for performances which to be right must be the choice of the will?
Rewards for exhibitions of good character belong to a better category. A child who puts much effort into mastering a lesson and displays diligence, perseverance, and a purpose to master himself, should be rewarded as an encouragement to continue in well-doing.
So when a restless child is still and orderly in obedience to classroom rules, or a passionate child is calm under provocation, or a strong-willed child obeys - it may be safe to give a reward.
In such cases the reward recognizes character; it encourages the recipient in his struggle to do what is right and good. A reward in this case is the wage of right action.
Rewards are given too profusely, and with too little discrimination, in many schools. In such cases they injure character instead of improving it. It is better not to reward at all than to reward where it has little meaning.
It is important to give thought and prayer as to how reward is used in Sunday school class.