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Obedience or sacrifice?

Dear saints, I trust that the Lord had been watching over you. In this world sacrificing or giving up things is considered a virtue. People praise you when we give up smoking, drinking and so on. They say that you’ve become more virtuous and principled. People also admire sacrificial giving and laud you for being selfless. Although such behavior and deeds are laudable, none of them have any spiritual significance unless they’re done to honor God and become a better servant. That’s because God desires obedience and not sacrifice.

Let’s look at 1 Samuel 15. This is the well-known story about Saul being rejected by the Lord. Saul was more eager to exalt himself (1 Samuel 15:12) in the eyes of the Lord than exalt the Lord Himself. At first glance, it looks as if he obeyed the Lord (1 Samuel 15:20-21). But, a deeper inspection of God’s word shows us that while God wanted all of the Amalekites destroyed (1 Samuel 15:3), Saul retained the choicest plunder to celebrate his victory. He also spared the Amalekite King Agog (1 Samuel 15:8), probably to use him as leverage in future campaigns. God wanted nothing of that sinful nation to be spared, but Saul argued that he rushed upon the plunder to offer choice sacrifices unto the Lord. God absolutely abhorred everything to do with that sinful nation and Saul was trying to appease God by offering sacrifices from the very same plunder that the Lord detested. Saul should have obeyed God as it’s always better to obey the Lord (1 Samuel 15:22) than try to sacrifice for him and appease Him. Today, God doesn’t decree the destruction of people and nations as much as He wants the destruction of sin in our lives (Matthew 18:8-9).

The Lord Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to God (Philippians 2:8). As much as Jesus loved humanity (Matthew 9:36), He was moved primarily by obedience to God. Even His sacrificial death was out of obedience to God (John 10:18) and not out of some great desire to sacrifice for humanity and exalt Himself as a savior. He was accepted by God because of His reverent submission (Hebrews 5:7) and not because of his tireless preaching and sacrifice. The sacrifices of Christ flowed from His obedience to God and not the other way around. I speculate that one of the reasons why the Lord said that He didn’t know the people who had preached and prophesied in His Name (Matthew 7:21-23) was because they didn’t have a personal relationship with Him. Service and sacrifice unto the Lord should flow from a personal relationship with the Master (Matthew 9:2) and not the other way around. Anything else would be detestable to the Lord.

What’s our focus today, saints? Are we trying to please the Lord by sacrificing and serving or is our sacrifice and service flowing from an obedient relationship with the Lord? If we’re spinning our wheels like Martha, then that would not please the Lord. But, if our service is the result of an obedient relationship with Christ like Mary’s, then we’re certainly blessed.

Dear friends, I’m certain that all of you are saved and sanctified. However, if there be any among you who is yet to surrender to the Lord, I pray that you will accept Christ as your savior today.

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