And Samuel said, ”Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” -1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV)
- delight (willingly taking pleasure in something)
- better (to make good; to do well; to adorn)
- sacrifice (an offering)
- obey (to hear)
How refreshing that our God, unlike other gods, does not rely on our sacrifices to be who He is or to reveal Himself to us. God willingly takes pleasure in our obedience first and calls this a greater thing when compared to the sacrifice. It doesn’t matter how grand our sacrifice, if it’s done without obedience it gains nothing. But, oh, how tempting it is for us to sacrifice rather than obey. We struggle with obedience because our flesh contends for self-magnification and idolatry, which ultimately rejects the Lord and makes gods of ourselves. Obedience requires the intentional work of our will toward reflective, analytical and spiritual worship.
It’s interesting that the word obey here means to hear. Even more interesting is that in many parts of the New Testament the word means to trust. Hearing God, then, is closely related to trusting Him and visa versa. God does not need our obedience for His purpose to prevail. He will continue to glorify Himself and reveal His purpose whether we obey Him or not. Our failure to hear and trust Him leaves us in a state of disarray. We will not be under God’s protection and will fall prey to every evil temptation under the sun.
“And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.” –Deuteronomy 28:1-6
Here in Deuteronomy 28 we see the glorious, life-giving blessings of obedience. They are both temporal and spiritual. They glorify God and give Him power as the HOLY GOD as we are blessed! They reveal Christ and the work of His Holy Spirit in our lives. And through our humility there is faith, grace, purity and godliness. Foreign to the life of a Christian are anarchy, chaos, disobedience, and disrespect. Brethren, if you are ruled by any of these traits, it’s time to seek the face of Christ and beg His sweet forgiveness so that you may be filled with His blessings and live a life of unaltered joy and peace which surpasses the understanding of man.
If we love God enough, we will obey; we will keep his commandments. Let us so think of the temporal and spiritual blessings that He has showered upon us, and His constant, surrounding loving-kindness that out of appreciation we will hear Him, trust Him and love Him enough to do what He asks. Our gratitude to God can be expressed only in loving, humble obedience to his will.
Heavenly Father, continue to strip me of the temptation to put sacrifice over obedience and call this a good thing in your house. Lord, I strive for true worship and faithful devotion so that I can know you better, love you more, and humbly sacrifice those things you require of me. Continue your good work in me, Lord, and lead me. Help me to be obedient also to those who have been put in charge over me, so that they may give a good account for the work they have been called. Bless them for their faithfulness to you. -Amen
January 9th, 2011 at 7:41 PM
Nice post. We, as the body of Christ, need to mix obedience w/sacrifices. Not that we should forget one and do the latter. There must be balance. Thanks!
January 11th, 2011 at 7:02 PM
Yes, I’ve come to understand that sacrifice is a natural response or outpouring of obedience. While one can be sacrificial without obedience (as noted above), he simply cannot be truly and wholly obedient without sacrifice. Thanks so much for your comment, Dennis. You’re a blessing!
March 1st, 2011 at 7:25 PM
Hi Angela. Really enjoyed your post here. It has been a struggle for me in the past to get out of this mode of sacrifice. It is very easy to get these two things mixed up. Remembering that what I offer is like a filthy rag. we cannot please Him with our offerings.
I agree with Dennis that there must be a balance and that sacrifice is part of our lives as a follower of Christ.
Obeying – hearing and trusting is how I make myself acceptable to God, only through Christ. It is a wonderful truth that I don’t need to do anything but hear God and trust Him.
He is truly amazing.