1 Samuel 15:22-24
“Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice”
We can often think of sacrifice and obedience as being the same thing but they are not. It all truly it all boils down to the condition of the heart. Sacrifice can seem noble but is futile if it is not connected to a heart of obedience. We can come up with elaborate ways to do what we believe is right in God’s eyes but really he just wants us to listen to him and be obedient to his voice.
Take a look at Cain and Abel for instance. Cain brought a sacrifice of the ground and Abel brought a sacrifice of the fat of the finest firstborn from his flock. God was pleased with Abel’s sacrifice because he had given God the best from his flock where Cain only offered some fruit from the ground. God respected Abel’s sacrifice because it came from a heart of obedience. People may say that is harsh, but I believe that God had made known to the young men what it was he had desired. Cain is the man who toiled the ground and brought to the Lord what he desired to bring him not what God had required. Genesis 4:6-7 says, “And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted?” I believe that Cain knew what God had wanted but instead came up with his own version of a sacrifice instead of being obedient.
God doesn’t want our sacrifice just for the sake of bringing something to him, but He desires hearts that are yielded to Him. The religious rulers brought sacrifices to the temples, they participated in all of the religious rituals of the old covenant, but when Jesus the son of God was standing face to face with them they did not recognize him. They didn’t truly know God in their hearts, they just knew what they were supposed to do. This is the difference between obedience and sacrifice. The Lord spoke to me and asked me a question one day. He asked why do you think many people do not fulfill my calling for their lives? I said because they don’t know who they are in you, Lord? He said yes, identity is part of it, but it boils down to lack of fear in Me.” If we truly love God and fear him reverently then we would obey him and do what He asks of us. John 14:15 says, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.”
The Lord is looking for more than just doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. He desires his children to show their love for him by being yielded and obedient to him. We may have good intentions in mind believing we are doing all that God requires of us, however, unless we spend time with him getting to know him we may be missing it all together. We can do what seems to be the “good” thing and yet totally be missing the “God” thing we are supposed to be doing.
I want to encourage you to take some time today and ask God if there are areas of your life where you may not be in total obedience, whether in actions or in your heart. Take time to repent and start over. Thankfully the Lord’s mercies are new EVERYDAY! Spending time with the Lord and getting to know His heart will reveal to you your own heart, and it will allow you to understand what God is asking you to do things out of obedience rather than just sacrifice.