Risk and Reward

Connecting Points

Friday, January 27, 2012

Today’s Topic: Risk and Reward

Today’s Text:  Isaiah 58:13-14 (NIV)   “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’S holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Years ago, a reporter was visiting the Oakland Raiders’ football camp. He had just come from the Jack London Historic Monument. He read a sample of London’s prose to quarterback Ken Stabler:

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.”

After reading this to the quarterback he asked, “What does that mean to you?”

Stabler replied, “Throw deep.”

I am a risk taker in certain areas of my life. Never, and I mean never, does the risk involve tightly closed spaces underground. I have serious issues with claustrophobia. But I do take risks in other areas when there is a perceived or a realistic reward offered. I will invest in the stock market; carry a bow into the woods to hunt deer knowing that there are also bears, cougars, and wolves around; and I will stand and preach in front of a crowd of people that believe they have every right to tear me apart if they reject the truth that is being spoken.

We all take risks every day. Did you get in a car today to travel to work or the gym? You took a huge risk. Did you eat food prepared by someone behind closed doors at a restaurant? Risky. Have you ever taken a 4-iron to try to hit a green 190 yards away over water? Splash!

But each risk had a reward. Retirement income. A big buck. A harvest of souls. Faster time to work than walking. Good food with no prep or clean-up. A chance for an eagle. Risks bring rewards as this poem bears out:

Let come what will I mean to bear it out,

And either live with glorious victory

or die with fame, renowned in chivalry.

He is not worthy of the honeycomb

That shuns the hives because the bees have stings.

“If” is a word of risk. God’s Word is full of ifs. In fact, in the New International Version the word “if” appears 1590 times. Granted many of them are in common sentence structure, but many of them refer to conditions that God places on rewards. The very first time “if” is used is in Genesis when God speaks to Cain after he murdered his brother. “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Cain was told to risk his own way on the altar of God’s will. He was asked to take a risk.

God challenges us to take risks every day. We are to risk being rejected by the world as we stand for Jesus. He asks us to risk giving up our lives to find eternal life. He says, “Take up your cross and follow me.” That’s risky. He encourages us to surrender our rights for the benefit of others who need to see God’s love and grace. Huge risks that have great rewards. What are you willing to risk to receive God’s reward?

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

To reach out for another is to risk involvement.

To expose feelings is to risk exposing our true self.

To place your ideas, your dreams, before the crowd is to risk loss.

To love is to risk not being loved in return.

To live is to risk dying.

To hope is to risk despair.

To try at all is to risk failure.

But risk we must, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

The man, the woman, who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

Pastor John

2 thoughts on “Risk and Reward

  1. The Sabbath is the hinge of the passage. More than a day on the calendar, it seems to symbolize Israel’s entire relationship with the Lord. I am reading a book for one of my classes, written by Erich Fromm (To Have Or To Be?). He has an interesting Jewish perspective on the Sabbath:

    “[The Sabbath] is rest in the sense of the re-establishment of complete harmony between human beings [and God] and between them and nature. Nothing must be destroyed and nothing be built: the Shabbat is a day of
    truce in the human battle with the world. […] The Shabbat is a day of joy because on that day one is fully oneself. This is the reason the Talmud calls a Shabbat the anticipation of the Messianic Time, and the Messianic Time the unending Shabbat: the day on which property and money as well as mourning and sadness are tabu; a day on which time is defeated and pure being rules” (42).

    If the Sabbath is intended by God to be a preview of what humanity is intended to be, we can understand why God is so angry when his people distort and misuse the day for their own sinful purposes!


    • Thanks, Curt. The context is all about the proper use of the Sabbath, which I view as every day under the New Covenant because of Hebrews 4. Your comments always challenge me and I appreciate them and you!


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