“Obedience is its own reward”

On Sunday Covenant Life Church was given a gift of a sermon from Joshua Harris’s father, Gregg Harris, on the topic of parenting. The entire message is worth a listen (as is Joshua’s Mother’s Day message). The following excerpt previewed the topic of parenting and highlights an essential character of the wisdom literature.

Gregg Harris said,

“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 we are putting God in our debt [legalism]. 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 at Covenant Life Church (1:39-3:15 markers).

The excerpt reminded me of a sermon by Jonathan Edwards that connected the goodness of God in giving his wisdom and the happiness of man in obeying that wisdom. He said, “Knowing the terribleness of the misery that we shall bring upon ourselves by our disobedience and our own blindness, folly, and backwardness to obedience, He graciously condescends to urge us, and uses and abundance of arguments with us, to persuade us to obedience.” And later Edwards said, “If God should leave men wholly to themselves, to their own exorbitant and wicked dispositions, without any restraints, men would make a hell for themselves. It is a great part of the misery of hell that sin has there its full and free course, and has no restraints.” [1]

For more on this idea that “obedience is its own reward” read Deuteronomy 6:24, 10:12-13, and Proverbs 9:12. May we see God’s kindness in giving His wisdom and be people who delight in His law (Psalm 1:1-2).


[1] Don Kistler, ed. The Puritan Pulpit American Series: Jonathan Edwards (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004) pp. 236, 240.