Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice – 1 Samuel 15:22

When we talk about the importance of developing this discipline of saying ‘Yes’ to God, we often associate it with God being demanding of us — as if He is some heartless being, calling all the shots, and leaving us with no choice.  Although He does have the power to call all the shots– the truth is, He is the furthest thing away from being forceful.

While He is all powerful and holds all life in His hands, He is also a loving God who gives us the choice of saying yes
While He is all powerful and holds all life in His hands, He is also a loving God who gives us the choice of saying yes or no to Him. Free will (despite the countless times we use it against Him) is actually His gift to us so that we may learn to make choices that are motivated and driven by our understanding of His love towards us.

We Don’t Have A Problem Hearing His Voice.. But Obeying it? Yikes!

Because we don’t have the foresight that God has, it often becomes difficult to say yes to Him. In fact in most cases it may even feel like we have this blindfold over our eyes and we are agreeing to something we don’t know. This actually reminds me of my own personal story. Although God had calling over my life from a very young age, my inability to see what God saw for me, held me back from saying ‘yes’ to Him.  As a result, I spent many years running away from Him and doing everything I could to do the exact opposite of what He desired for me to do. The problem was not that I couldn’t hear God’s voice clearly, the problem was that I didn’t want to obey it. When reflecting on my personal journey, and hearing about the experiences of others, I realize that our problem has never been hearing God’s voice– it’s saying ‘yes’ that has become our greatest challenge.

Our verse for today from 1 Samuel reminds us that it is better to obey than to sacrifice. In other words it’s better to say ‘yes’ to Him, than to try and do things for Him that we feel will please Him. In our human attempts to try and look good while serving in church, helping out charities, or attending church services, we forget how to obey Him.  The truth is,

He desires our ‘yes’ more than He desires our “good deeds”
He desires our ‘yes’ more than He desires our “good deeds”.  A perfect example of this is King Saul. Despite God’s request, Saul made a choice to keep the Amalekite king Agag alive and kept the best livestock rather than to destroy everything as God had requested of Him to do so. When Samuel confronted King Saul with what he had done, we see the interesting thought process behind King Saul’s decision. Saul defended himself saying, “What are you talking about? I did obey God. I did the job God set for me. I brought in King Agag and destroyed the Amalekites under the terms of the holy ban. So the soldiers saved back a few choice sheep and cattle from the holy ban for sacrifice to God at Gilgal—what’s wrong with that?” (1 Samuel 15:20). At which point, Samuel responds to him saying “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice.”

Sacrifice Does Not Mean Obedience! Here’s Why..

Firstly, because Saul’s disobedience was rebellion toward God. Samuel responds in 1 Samuel 15:23 saying, “For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry [..]” Wow! Saul’s attempt at trying to do what he thought was “good”, or doing what he thought would be pleasing to God was only translated as an act of rebellion, and idolatry in the eyes of God. A couple of years ago I was at a conference in Michigan and the speaker said something that will forever stay with me. He said 99% obedience is still 100% disobedience.”

99% obedience is still 100% disobedience
I remember sitting in my seat and letting that sentence hit hard. Suddenly, I remembered all the times I had done something for God to compensate for not saying ‘yes’ to God. In some weird way, we are so convinced that if we’re not verbally saying ‘no’ to God and still “acting right” then God will be satisfied —  as if God is not smart enough to know the motives or intentions of the heart. In the eyes of man, Saul didn’t do anything bad either. He went to battle, destroyed mostly everything, and kept the stuff that looked good. However, what man fails to see, God sees clearly .. lack of obedience.

Secondly, because our “sacrifice” apart from our obedience to God is actually idolatry. In verse 24, Saul confesses saying “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them.” In other words, Saul admits that his sacrifice (a.k.a “good deed”) was against God’s request and therefore a transgression. He then continues with his confession by admitting that he did what he did for the sake of approval from people. The intentions of his heart (despite what may have seemed as good sacrifice) were to gain the approval of men as opposed to the favor of God. Although those who went to battle with him may have applauded him for his “good heart”, God had already rejected him as king.

The Freedom In Saying YES

Saying yes to God does not require perfection or even readiness on our part.

saying yes to God does not require perfection or even readiness on our part.
Jesus is willing to take us just as we are at a given moment. It’s also not looking “good” in the sight of others, or about gaining the approval of those around us. The only thing required to say yes to God is faith. Faith in the truth that He is all knowing, and constantly working for our good even when we cannot see it. When we are willing to say yes to Him, we are expressing confidence in His character. We are saying that we trust the direction He will lead us. We are affirming that we believe He loves us and has our best interests at heart. In addition to that, when you say yes to God, you invite God to set things right between Him and you.

Secondly. The result of saying yes to God may not be immediately seen. Noah said yes to God even though everyone called him crazy. Moses stood before a burning bush and said yes to God even though returning to Egypt was risky for him. Abraham said yes to God even though he didn’t know whether or not God would provide an alternative for sacrifice.  As mentioned in the beginning, saying yes to Him will sometimes feel as if we have this blindfold over our eyes and are walking into something we don’t know. However, if we truly have faith in His character then we will be comforted in the truth that even if we don’t see what He sees, what we’re saying yes to will only work out for our good in the end.

Lastly, often saying yes to God will cost you something. This weekend at a conference I heard the Young Adult pastor say “Jesus may be free, but there is a cost in following Him.” Saying yes and following Him could perhaps cost you a relationship, a career opportunity, or a ministry position that you thought you needed. Regardless of what that cost may seem to be, one thing you will always be guaranteed in saying yes to Him is serenity unmatched by anything the world can offer. 

See you next Monday!

Written by Christina Girma

    1 Comment

  1. MiLena March 18, 2016 at 12:32 pm Reply

    So inspiring and beautifully written!!

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