1 Samuel 15:22-23
But Samuel replied:
“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.
For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”
Israel was more concerned about doing the rituals than they were about having a change of heart, and obeying God. Some things never change with religious people. We have a lot of religious observance in the Christian community, but are we satisfying God through our worship services? Does he find that we are obeying Him over our religious ritual of worship? Just going to church on Sunday doesn’t do much for Him, unless He sees a heart that is pursuing Him, and is living according to His Word. It may do something for you, but unless it is bringing you to a place of a changed heart, I think you are wasting your time thinking you’re making God happy by gathering in His name at church. What makes God happy isn’t singing Chris Tomlin songs, it is a heart whose desire is to know and follow Him without compromise. King Saul decided he would go ahead of God, thinking it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. The prophet Samuel had a harsh word for King Saul, “because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king.” I wonder if some of our disappointments as Christians haven’t been because we went ahead of God in our impatience to see something accomplished. I know for a fact, I have been guilty of this, and only after falling upon my face in defeat did I realize that God was an after thought in the process of my decision-making. God is seeking for people who will pursue Him without reservation, and without doubt.
In a conversation I had today with a good friend who is struggling with forgiving people who have deeply hurt him, he realized that holding on to the pain of unforgiveness was detrimental to his own spiritual growth and happiness. It is never easy to forgive, but if we are obeying God, we have no other choice than to forgive. Living in unforgiveness toward others is an act of pride. Your pride is always affected by the offense, and you will never get over it without understanding how your pride was affected. What happens is that your pride wants to be right when you’re wronged and no matter how you justify being the victim, it never justifies un-forgiveness.
That is why Samuel said, “To obey is better than sacrifice” because it takes real courage to stand up to your own pride, and obey God in forgiveness, than it does to hold a grudge in un-forgiveness. This is true for so many areas in our discipleship, but one other area that I would like to mention quickly is not telling the whole truth. In my career as a pastor, and executive director I have notice that believers will often tell only a partial truth, but exaggerated the rest. I don’t think this honors God, nor does it bring us favor with fellow believers who will eventually find out the schemes of dishonesty. I have been lied to more by believers than I have been by unbelievers, and the painful part of that is I expect dishonesty from those in the world, but I do not expect it from those who say they follow Christ.
God will remove His anointing from those who do not obey Him. Religious people are often like King Saul who think their traditional observances will suffice when it come to obedience. It was not true for Saul, he disobeyed God and His kingdom was removed. It is important that we pause more often in our day and ask the question, “God am I pleasing you today by living according to what I know you want from me?” I know we will have days that will not go well for us, but that is no excuse when it comes to obeying God. Bad days are not excuses for not forgiving, or for not telling the whole truth. God expects us to be the salt and light for Him, and that means we have to work harder at being more concerned that we obey Him.
These are some sobering thoughts for you from the life of Saul who really had a successful reign until he decided to do it his way. That is always a recipe for disaster.
Keeping it honest and truthful…K