While pondering over the scriptures detailing the downfall of King Saul in I Samuel 13-15, I begin to ask myself which is harder-sacrificing for self accomplishment, or sacrificing for obedience to God? To many, the obvious answer would be the latter. Surely any person would choose to sacrifice in obedience to God than selfish accomplishment. Unfortunately, for many believers, including me, this is not the accurate truth.
There are millions of Christian believers who regularly sacrifice in obedience to God. The Lenten season is a great example of this because millions are turning away the table, bad habits, bad relationships and just about any other thing that we believe will help us be more spiritual and have a closer relationship with the Father. Yet in a sense are we actually doing this to for selfish accomplishment or spiritual obedience. Samuel makes this statement to Saul in The question then becomes “what does obeying the voice of the Lord actually mean?
In a literal sense, the passage can be transliterated this way: “Does God value an offering or sacrifice going up to Him as much as the continual attentively listening to the loudness of God’s voice? Indeed to have heard for certain is bountiful/beautiful than the slaughter of sacrifices. At first this doesn’t seem difficult at all, but it truly is. The whole dilemma with Saul was created because of his impatience to wait on the voice of God through Samuel the Prophet. As a result, two occasions proclaim his eventual dismissal as king. Both announcements came as a result of Saul’s disobedience.
The troubling part of this story is that in both cases, Saul did not realize or failed to fully comprehend his disobedience. He blamed both reactions to the desires of the people over his authority as king. If we were truly honest with ourselves, we too would realize that much of the results of sin that we have attributed to someone else are actually the results of our own inability or lack of discipline to operate in our God-given authority. This will eventually lead to a dismissal of some kind be it the loss of position, the dispositions of bad relationships, financial hardships, or God forbid, a loss of communion with Him.
How can we be empowered to better hear the voice of God and fully carry out his commands for us today? This requires consistent fellowship with Him. We must engage God daily so that we may be empowered to carry out his expectations in the earth. Revelation 3:20 says: “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If any person hears my voice and opens, I will come in and dine with him and him with me.” When we engage God and his word, it reveals the very things that cause us to be self accomplishing sacrifices. It reveals the hidden sins that we all commit. It opens us to the correction of a Loving Heavenly Father who bids only that we come to him; all who are weary and heavy laden and he will give us rest.
We do not have to be as Saul was. There will be times when our patience with God’s promises will be tested and our desire to achieve a sense of spiritual accomplishment will push us towards disobedience. It is then that we must do as the hymn writer admonishes: “Ask the savior to help you; comfort, strengthen and keep you. He is willing to aid you. He will carry you through.”