Attention Word Slingers readers: Beginning December 11, 2019, all posts will be available at Thank you for reading Word Slingers!

When I was growing up in church I was involved in Bible Drill competitions. It’s scary to think that I have reached the age where I now use the term, “back in my days….” But alas, here I am.

So, back in my days, we used to have competitions where all the kids would line up in a row, and the challenge was to see who could find a certain bible passage the fastest.  This was a way to help us memorize the books of the Bible and also to help us memorize certain verses.

As my memory serves, I was pretty good at this, but it also helped that I knew how to cheat. You see, everyone who found that verse would step forward before the allotted time was up and then one person would be called upon to read it to verify that they had found it. I quickly learned that if I were called upon to read the verse, it would be a few more turns before I would have to read again. So, I could safely step forward and earn points without actually having found that verse.

It’s because of a past like this I am glad we are not saved by works because cheating at Bible Drill seems like a high level crime. In my defense, my parents told me that if I did well in Bible Drill that they would buy me a ninja turtle action figure, and I needed one more to complete my set.

I knew from all those years in church that lying, cheating and stealing was wrong. But the one thing they could not teach me was obedience. Unfortunately, without learning obedience, all the moral teachings I learned couldn’t keep me from being a Bible Drill cheater.

How then do we teach obedience? Well Jesus gives us insight on that in John 14:23 when he says, “If you love me, obey what I command.”

Love comes before obedience. People will obey to some degree if they are motivated by fear, but the greatest kind of obedience is one motivated by love. Love can not be taught, but we can role model what it looks like.

I can teach my children what love looks like by the way I treat my bride. Love is something that has to be seen to be understood. Jesus also said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love one for another.”

This means that people need to be told and shown the love of Christ. We show others what it means to love Christ by loving them the way Christ loved us.

I’m thankful that I grew up in a church that offered programs like Bible Drill, but these programs only tell one side of the story. I continue to learn obedience from all the godly people in my life who love me even though I’m a Bible Drill cheater. I see the fruit of their own obedience and the peace and sound mind it brings them.