At times I flip back in my Moleskine notebook of sermon scribbles to recollect what I was learning 12 months ago. It’s a humbling exercise to realize that very little of what I actually hear during a sermon will stick in my brain for a year. And it’s a bit discouraging, too. Apparently I require chronic review of everything I’ve ever learned (paradoxical, I know).
But I do remember one sermon from last summer. At about this time at Covenant Life Church, Joshua Harris’s father Gregg Harris preached a fantastic message on the topic of parenting (so good I remember it!). The entire message is worth a listen but the following excerpt previewed the topic of parenting and highlights an essential character of the wisdom literature of Scripture. Obedience is its own reward.
“The thing that we sometimes fail to understand about God’s Word, and the wisdom that it offers us, is that it’s intended to be the light upon our path. Some of us read our Bible’s like a man looking into the glare of his flashlight in a dark cave. He is as blind as if he had no light at all because he is not relating what Scripture says with what he’s doing. It’s intended to be a light upon the path.
Sometimes we fall into the mistaken notion that when we obey God’s Word that somehow we are putting God in our debt. But obedience is its own reward. When you step over something that’s in your way because you are walking in the light of God’s Word, you don’t suddenly turn to God and say, ‘Okay God, I obeyed, now pay me!’ The fact that you did not fall on your face is reward enough. And sometimes we fail to make that connection.
Wisdom itself is that ability to see how one thing relates to another in God’s purposes. That this relates to that because of who He is—and He is good and wise. And when we understand this, the commandments of the Lord and the wisdom literature of the bible become a delight to us, not a burden. It is not a distraction from what would have been more enjoyable but rather it’s rescuing from what would have been horrible.”
—Gregg Harris, sermon: “Don’t Waste Your Kids,” July 27, 2008, Covenant Life Church, 1:39-3:15 markers.
And for more on the idea that “obedience is its own reward” check out Deuteronomy 6:24, 10:12-13, and Proverbs 9:12. May we live this out, being people who truly delight in God’s Law (Psalm 1:1-2). And may I never forget it!