Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. from 1 Sam 15
These words are from Samuel’s steern rebuke of Saul after he “tweaks” the Lord’s instructions. God has given Saul a clear command to go and completely destroy the Amalekites, but Saul only destroys what is weak or broken. He and his soldiers keep the best of the blunder for themselves. They also keep the king alive. Later they claim they were going to sacrifice the best of the sheep and goats to the Lord, and that may have been true, but either way they did not obey what God asked of them. Samuel makes a bold statement to the king. He paints a picture of God’s heart. God desires obedience.
Saul missed the big picture here. He thought in the moment of battle that he could make a better judgement call than God. He thought he knew better. Maybe it was the adrenalin, maybe it was the peer pressure from the army. Maybe it was just Saul’s arrogance, once again getting the best of him. So he does something a little different than what God asks of him. But a little different is still different.
Often we think of “sin” as huge, radically immoral things. Sin is not a word we like to associate with ourselves, so we attach it to actions or people that we think we would never do…like murder…or stealing a car. We don’t do those things on a day to day basis, so we feel we aren’t “sinning”. But what if we began to look at sin differently?
I have heard that in the original definition of sin, it was described as a term from archery. Anything outside of the dead center was called “sin”. So if we look at God’s best for us, His clear command for today, as the dead center, than anything outside of that is sin. Anything outside of God’s best for me is sin.
God does not want my sacrifices. He wants my obedience. He doesn’t want me to write him a big check, or give my car to a homeless person. He desires obedience. In the moment, heartfelt obedience.
I can spend my day, giving into peer pressure. I can worry what other people will think, or talk myself out of what I hear God’s Spirit saying in my gut. I can rationalize that it’s a bad time, or I will offend someone, or that I can think of a better way to do it. Or I can choose to obey.
Jesus, thank you that you care about my heart. Thank you that you are not after my money or even my time. You are after obedience. Would i obey you in the moment today. I repent of all the ways i have argued with your spirit to get out of obedience. Today, I choose into obedience.
Diving In is our online mid-week devotional. It jumps into the message from Sunday and takes us a little deeper. Take a moment to slow down from your busy day, and hear from the Holy Spirit. We re-post every week. You can follow along by clicking the +Follow button in the bottom-right corner of your screen. This week Diving In is written by Erika Thornton (Pastor Jonathan’s wife).