Summary: In God's kingdom partial obedience is disobedience
Those of you who have children understand quite well the idea of partial obedience. You tell your children to clean their room and five minutes later that come tell you they are all done. But when you go to check on what they have done, all they did was move their mess from one spot to another. If they’re really clever that other spot is under the bed where it won’t be visible with only a cursory look.
Now that example of partial obedience is probably not going to have a drastic impact on either the life of your child on yours. But it very clearly reveals that there is something of a rebel in all of us. Which is why when God gives a direct command, we often just smile at God, do some or even most of what He told us to do and then run back to God and tell Him we’re all done.
But as we’re going to learn this morning…
In God’s kingdom
partial obedience is disobedience
Our partial obedience can take a number of different forms:
• Sometimes we pick and choose the commands that we obey. We obey the ones we like and we ignore the ones that we think are unreasonable, difficult, expensive or unpopular. So perhaps we’ll attend church regularly, but we won’t give God our first and our best when it comes to our offerings.
• Sometimes we obey most of what God commands, but we justify our lack of complete obedience by “interpreting” God’s Word in a way that we can justify or excuse the part of His command that we’ve chosen to disobey. So when someone offends us, we might obey God’s command to forgive them, but then we’ll add on our own condition – I’ll do that when they apologize to me. Or maybe we’ll say we forgive them but we still hold a grudge.
• Sometimes we obey the command fully, but only part of the time. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people who call themselves Christians do this. They put on a good façade and live for Jesus really well for a couple hours on Sunday morning, but then they live for self the rest of the week.
As I think about these different types of partial disobedience, I’m remind of the pastor Charles Stanley’s definition of obedience:
Obedience is doing what God says, how He says it, and when He says to do it.
So any time I don’t do what God says fully, or I don’t do it how He tells me to do it or I don’t do it when He says to do it, that kind of partial obedience is actually disobedience in God’s eyes.
Now if you’ve never engaged in any of the kinds of partial obedience that I just talked about, then you’re excused from listening to the rest of this message. But if, like me, you’ve ever had a problem fully obeying God, then I am confident that you’ll learn some things this morning that will help you grow in your obedience.
Like we did a couple weeks ago when we learned what not to do by looking at the story of Naomi, today we’re going to try and learn about obedience from looking at someone else’s mistakes, so hopefully we won’t have to make those same mistakes ourselves.
Last week, we looked at God’s call of Samuel when he was probably around 12 years old. Because of his obedience to God then, God continued to speak to the people of Israel through Samuel and Samuel served as Israel’s judge who led the nation of Israel by speaking the word of God to them.
As Samuel got older, his sons failed to follow in his footsteps and they took bribes and perverted justice (1 Samuel 8:3). So the elders of Israel came to Samuel and demanded that Samuel appoint a king to rule over them, just like all the other nations around them. In 1 Samuel 8, we see that was not at all what God desired and through Samuel He warned them about what would happen if they insisted on having a king. But the people refused to listen and still insisted on having a king so God did what He often does when man insists on his own way – He let them have what they wanted so that they would suffer the consequences of their choice. There is a whole other sermon there that will have to wait for another time.
So God revealed to Samuel that he was to anoint Saul as king. And Samuel calls the people together to present Saul as their king, warning them once again that their choice to ask for a king was a rejection of God. Saul became a very effective military leader and led the Israelites to victory over the Ammonites and the Philistines. But during that time, we begin to see why Samuel had warned Israel about their desire for a king. In chapter 13, we see that Saul gets impatient and instead of waiting on Samuel to come make the sacrifice, he does it himself. And then in chapter 14, we read about the rash vow that Saul makes that would have resulted in the death of his son, Jonathan, had the people not intervened.