DayBreaks for 11/11/13 – The Reward for Faithfulness
Exodus 20:6 (NLT) But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.
Has it ever seemed to you that God isn’t noticing what you’ve been up to? I don’t mean the sins – we all seem to have a pretty good notion that God is seeing those, don’t we! I am talking about the good things that you’ve been doing. Sometimes it seems as if that faithfulness is not being noticed, let alone rewarded.
That’s how it was with Zechariah and Elizabeth, I suspect. Zechariah was a priest, a Levite. He and his wife, Elizabeth, are described in Luke 1 as “upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.” Then comes the kicker: “But they had no children because Elizabeth was barren and they were both well along in years.”
I am sure that this first century Jewish couple didn’t start out their marriage hoping to be childless. By this time in their lives, they probably expected that not only would they have had their own children, but that their grandchildren and possibly great-grandchildren would be happily playing on the living room floor. But, it hadn’t happened.
I can’t help but wonder if perhaps they felt that God hadn’t noticed the faithful service of Zechariah, or the piety and purity of Elizabeth. Perhaps He’d not noticed their faithfulness at giving their tithes, at observing the Sabbath and feast days. After all, aren’t the righteous supposed to enjoy God’s blessing? But Elizabeth was barren – something that bore a stigma – that you’d done something terribly sinful to not have a child.
Can you identify? Perhaps you’ve taught Sunday school for years, but you, too, are barren. Or you’ve been an elder or deacon for years and years but your child has now turned against God and rebelled against your teaching and example. Or your spouse has had an affair (or you have), and your marriage is on the rocks. A death-sentence diagnosis may have been given to you or one you love…and you’re wondering “Well, God, how about it? How about that blessing that is to come to the ones You love?”
The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth may give us a clue: first came the long, bitter years of disappointment when every month there was no child. Then comes the big announcement: but the timing wasn’t what Zechariah/Elizabeth would have chosen for themselves. At their age, it would be a question of whether they would need more diapers than the baby boy the angel promised them. That is usually the sequence: obedience, disappointment, timing.
The sermon today speaks to this nagging feeling that God isn’t rewarding our obedience. Based on today’s verse (above), I am reminded that God may reward my grandchildren and great-grandchildren for my faithfulness today. I may never see that blessing, but would I rather that God withheld it from my grandchildren or great-grandchildren just so I could see it today myself? God forbid!!! Never in a million years would I wish such a thing! I doubt that Zechariah and Elizabeth lived long enough to hear their son, John the Baptist, preach a single sermon, or to see the hearts of the nation turned back to God because of his work. But it was a reward for their faithfulness, was it not?
Discouraged that God’s not noticing you and your labors for Him? Don’t be. It is all a matter of timing and the reward will appear…perhaps even for a thousand generations!
PRAYER: Jesus, that you that you are faithful to reward obedience! Grant us the grace to be contented to believe and trust in Your promise, even if we never see that reward in our lifetime! We ask You to bless and reward our descendants to the thousandth generation according to You promise! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2013 by Galen C. Dalrymple.
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