Obedience or Sacrifice
I guess I never really thought about this much, until today - whether God wants our sacrifice or our obedience - but when I was reading 1 Samuel 15:22 it says, "But Samuel replied, 'Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.' " You'd have to go and read all of the story to really gather everything about Saul, but in God's word we see that God was very angry with Saul because he was disobedient. Sure, he saved some of the best, saying he was giving it as a sacrifice to the Lord, but God commanded him to do otherwise, to destroy EVERYTHING, not just what he thought he should destroy.
I think we all do this from time to time...what we think would be a good enough sacrifice to the Lord may only be a partial sacrifice (if that is even a sacrifice at all). God requires it ALL in order for it to be a sacrifice. In other words, a sacrifice that cost you nothing isn't really a sacrifice at all, right? The sacrifice is, many times, in being obedient - you may have to sacrifice something in order to be obedient, or like Samuel (the one who confronted Saul about his conduct) you may find out that obedience IS the sacrifice. Samuel was faithful to God and did all that God asked him to do in speaking to Saul about what he had done. It could not have been easy for Samuel. In fact, scripture tells us "Samuel was troubled and cried out to the Lord all the night" (1 Samuel 15:11b)
In my own life, there are times when I think I know what I should do, but then I find out that was MY way, not GOD'S way. Why did I do it then? It seemed like the right thing to do (there wasn't anything morally wrong with it, or it was a good thing to do). Saul's argument was that he went on the mission God assigned him, and he destroyed everything but that which was devoted to God, but it wasn't what God required. Or, an even tougher one to admit...because I wasn't in tune with God. Sometimes I just don't spend the time with the Lord that I should and it's like when you're driving along, listening to your car radio, and you begin to hear static or part of that station and another one, the music just isn't coming through as clearly as it once was. That's usually two of the biggest reasons for me.
After thinking about Saul and the actions he took that were disobedient to what God asked of him, here are a few questions to ponder: Are we obedient even when it doesn't come easy or make sense to us? Are we obedient even though it doesn't seem like the way we would do it? Are we obedient when it's not what we want? Those are the very times we see God show up and we step out of the way and let him work. Saul missed that blessing by not doing exactly what the Lord told him to do. I can count numerous times when I felt so out of place or thought to myself "this is not how I would do it" or felt unworthy to be doing what God had asked me to do, but EVERY TIME he was faithful to work through me because I was obedient. Plain and simple. God desires our obedience - not our knowledge, not our status, not even our talent - just our willingness to do whatever it is he ask of us!
Today (and everyday) I want to be like Samuel, obedient and faithful to the Lord. God, use me today to bring glory to your name. Help me to be obedient!