However, if we’re not careful, service and sacrifice can come between us and the Lord. In my first novel, A Distant Melody, Lt. Walter Novak and Allie Miller both make sacrifices in their lives to please God – but what He really wants is for them to obey regarding certain issues. Ultimately they realize they were only out to please themselves rather than the Lord.
In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul disobeys God’s command to slay all the Amalekites, including their livestock. He makes the excuse that he saved the best sheep to sacrifice to the Lord. However, that wasn’t what God asked him to do. The prophet Samuel confronts Saul and reminds him, “‘Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams'” 1 Samuel 15:22.
Do we choose our own sacrifices as Saul did? Do we busily serve in the church while ignoring God’s call to something else, perhaps something less pleasant? Do we follow legalistic rules but not the Lord’s deeper commands? Do we give our leftover time and money, thinking God will be pleased with scraps?
Yes, God calls for sacrifice, and obedience often requires sacrifice. However, sacrifice without obedience does not please the Lord.
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings” Hosea 6:6.
Have you ever found yourself choosing sacrifice over obedience?