If we aren’t fully obeying God, we aren’t obeying God. Only full obedience is obedience and God delights in obedience — simple obedience. He desires it more than religions, ceremonies, or traditions. Obedience is our love and faith in action.
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“For He is not a man, that He should relent.” 1 Samuel 15:29
This week as we read Quietly Through the Bible we have come to the story of Saul, the Lord choosing him as king for Israel, and the Lord taking away his crown. Saul had been directed by God, through Samuel, to destroy the Amalekites; not a single man, woman, or child, not a single cow, donkey or sheep was to remain (1 Samuel 15:3). But Saul did not obey.
If you haven’t been reading this story I encourage you to take just a minute or two and go read 1 Samuel 15. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Now at this point we might be tempted to think that God and his servant Samuel weren’t very kind or forgiving toward the Amalekites. We may think that Saul showed a great deal of mercy to King Agag and his people. Part of us might thing that Saul did what was right. But we’d be wrong.
God is just, Samuel was obedient, and the Amalekites were straight up evil (see Exodus 17:14-16 and Deuteronomy 25:17-19) and Saul, he sinned.
Saul was given a directive by God and he chose not to obey. While Saul did destroy most of the people, he spared King Agag and kept for himself all the best animals (1 Samuel 15:8-9). When confronted by Samuel about his disobedience, Saul denied he had done anything wrong and blamed others for his the things he could not deny. “I spared the king” Saul said, “but I killed every one else. That’s obedience, right?” (v20). And “The people did it, not me. They kept the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the LORD your God. That’s a a good reason, right?” (v15).
No, this wasn’t obedience. And no, there is never a good reason to disobey — even if the reasons are the “right” reasons.
As I read this story I was deeply convicted of some sin in my own life. The Holy Spirit has been prompting me to give something up and I haven’t. “But Lord, if I give it up I can’t do this, that, and the other thing for you. Giving it up will affect my ministry. I can’t function without it. Don’t you see how I need it to serve you better?” These are the ridiculous thoughts that run through my head and the whinny prayers that I lift up to God — The Creator of the Universe! I have been arguing with God over! With God!!! Stupid, right?
But in His loving and long-suffering way God has shown me how sinful I have been. “Kelli,” I heard Him whisper to my soul, “you are acting just like Saul. You are doing what is right in your own eyes and trying to justify your disobedience to Me. Do you trust me? Let it go. I don’t need it. You can serve me without it. It is not helpful and it is becoming an idol to you.”
And do you know what it is? Social media apps. There I said it. Social. Media. Apps. Two little squares, one pink and one blue, that sit on the screen of my iPhone and scream for my attention 24/7. Two little apps that I think I must have if I’m going to blog and share the gospel through blogging. Two little apps that I keep justifying as necessities to this little online ministry I’ve got going on here. I know. I know. Go ahead laugh out loud. Roll your eyes at me. I know you want to. I’m rolling my eyes at myself right now. But once you are done giggling at me, please understand the heart of this post: God delights in obedience. Simple obedience. Full obedience. Why? Because if we love Him we will obey Him (John 14:23).
Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams. 1 Samuel 15:22
Saul attempted to justify His disobedience, saying he did what he did for God. I’ve been doing the same thing. But really we both just wanted what we wanted. We both put our trust in something other than God. We both gave our attention, worship, devotion, and — dare I say — love to something other than Jesus.
Our obedience, or lack there of, reveals the extent of our faith and love for God. This is why it is important to remember that if we aren’t fully obeying God, we aren’t obeying God. We are sinning. And that requires full repentance.
Lord in heaven, I am a sinner and I have refused to fully obey You. Please forgive me. Thank you for showing me that my attitude and behavior is no different than Saul’s. Please forgive me, cleanse me, and teach me to trust you and obey your voice. Please enable me to love you more. Please grow my faith. And let this growing love and faith be expressed in continual acts of obedience. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.
As with all #QuietlyThrough posts, this was written while reading quietly through God’s word. If you’re looking for a simple Bible reading plan that moves at an easy pace then the Quietly Through reading plan may be for you.
Only by grace,