“To obey is better than sacrifice.”
I Samuel 15:22
This phrase from God’s Word shows us much about His heart and His true desire for His people.
He wants us to obey Him.
We know this. Most of us would readily admit that the One who created us owns us. And when humankind audaciously turned our backs on Him, declaring Him our enemy, He bought us back with the blood of His precious Son. We call Him Master; we call Him Lord. God is in charge and He has a right to call the shots.
But I can’t help but wonder what my actions say.
Because all too often, I suspect I’d rather concoct this or that sacrifice to appease Him than I would simply obey Him in the first place.
Okay, so maybe I haven’t murdered anyone lately. Or committed adultery.
But guess what? Neither did Saul.
God had instructed him to attack Amalek, saying, “Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” (I Samuel 15:3)
Pretty clear instructions, right? And Saul obeyed.
“But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.” (I Samuel 15:9)
Did you catch that? They kept the best stuff and destroyed the rest. Instead of following God’s instructions and destroying everything, they “leaned on their own understanding” (Proverbs 3:6) in just the most minor of ways. I might’ve done the same thing. I mean, really, why destroy the good stuff? The valuable stuff? We can show those Amalekites who’s boss without destroying everything.
But without hesitation, God’s response was, “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” (I Samuel 15:10)
He goes on to describe Saul’s actions as evil, rebellious, presumptuous, iniquitous, and idolatrous.
Really? All that fuss over just a little bit of partial obedience?
But the thing is, all too often, we don’t see our disobedience the way God does. Because here’s the truth: anything less than complete obedience sends a message, loud and clear, that I know better than God.
Hmm. It seems describing it as “evil, rebellious, presumptuous, iniquitous, and idolatrous” is just about right.
And so, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I’ve been gauging my level of obedience lately. Am I loving my enemies? Not just in a barely-tolerating-and-refraining-from-punching kind of way. I’m talking about a go-out-of-my-way-to-show-lavish-love kind of way.
Do I give generously to those in need? Or do I give as little as I can before my conscience protests?
Do I flee youthful lusts? Or do I see how close I can get without being burned?
May God grant us a greater awareness of even the smallest areas of disobedience, and give us hearts that desire to obey Him fully!
Lord, I confess that I’ve been only obeying partially in some things. I’ve allowed my judgment to supersede yours, and I see now what an atrocious sin that is in Your sight. Please grant me eyes unblinded to my sin and opened to Your standard of holiness. I can only aspire to Your standard by Your grace, through faith in Your Son. Thank you for His sacrifice, saving me from the penalty of sin, and from its power. Amen.