Behold, to obey is better than to sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. – 1 Samuel 15:22 (NKJV)
In the context of this verse, King Saul had an assignment. He was to utterly destroy the nation of the Amalekites. He partially obeyed. Anything or anyone he thought was valuable, he simply kept for himself. When confronted by Samuel the prophet, he justified his actions by saying he only did it so he could make a big sacrifice to the Lord. Samuel let him know really quickly something that many Christians need to learn today: Partial obedience is disobedience.
Saul honestly thought that he could just kill a bunch of animals on the altar and God would approve. He thought sin was something to arbitrarily be declared as pardoned and then you could just move on. He didn’t realize there was a real cost involved. Most American Christians, like Saul, don’t realize it either.
So many people who claim Christianity think the greatest sacrifice is simply going to church. Others think it is to put money in the offering plate. Many believe that God actually desires the sacrifice of their time and money. They actually believe it makes Him “happy” and okay with us. Therefore, we behave as we wish, then believe our sacrifices cancel out our disobedience.
Samuel’s words teach us otherwise.
Many Israelites lost respect for the sacrificial lambs and forgot their purpose. The point was that a sinner could transfer his sin onto the lamb and be declared clean. However, since the innocent lamb was now tainted with its owner’s sin, it had to be destroyed. The wages of sin is death, and it still is.
Therefore, we don’t simply ask to be forgiven over and over and keep living as we wish. When we sin we contemplate our actions. When convicted, and when we repent, we place our sin upon Jesus, our Passover Lamb. Hear Him cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Why is He saying such words? He had never known sin. He had never known what it was like to be separated from God the Father. But He sure knows on the cross at this moment. Why? Because He has your sin and my sin placed upon Him.
Makes it a little more serious doesn’t it? More than that, it makes me not want to sin. I don’t want to hurt my Savior any more. Why would I disobey Him knowing that if I want to be made right with Him, I must heap even more sin upon Him who I claim to love? I pray it never be so. For I have hurt Him enough with my foolishness and willful disobedience.
As we enter this Holy week, please don’t take it lightly. God does not delight in church attendance and offerings. I have learned that these two tools have been used to bless me more than anything else. Shame on me that I have thought that my misery while “suffering” through a boring church service was His delight. Shame on me that I have thought that He actually wanted my money. He is so good; He simply didn’t want money to have me.
He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
He still desires obedience . . . not sacrifice.
I have learned that when I obey, even if it is insanely difficult and it is the last thing I want to do or feel like doing, the person who ends up blessed the most . . . is me.