Summary: The importance of obedience.
Text: 1 Samuel 15:1-3, 7-31 (22-24)
Introduction: The key verses to this passage are verses 22-24. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Actually, though, most of us don’t care that much for either obedience or sacrifice. If we had to pick one or the other, a little religious sacrifice is what many of us try to substitute for genuine obedience to God.
To make the value of obedience just as practical as possible, let’s play "Let’s pretend." Let’s pretend that you work for me. In fact, you are my executive assistant in a rapidly growing company. As owner of the company, I’m interested in expanding overseas. To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until the new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family in the move to Europe for six to eight months, and I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization. I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you direction and instructions.
I leave, and you stay. Months pass. A flow of letters are mailed from Europe and received by you at the national headquarters. I spell out all my expectations. Finally, I return. Soon after my arrival, I drive down to the office. I am stunned! Grass and weeds have grown up high. A few windows along the street are broken. I walk into the receptionist’s office and she is doing her nails, chewing gum, and listening to her favorite rock station. I look around and notice the waste baskets are overflowing, the carpet hasn’t been vacuumed for weeks, and nobody seems concerned that the owner has returned. I ask where you are, and someone in the crowded lounge area points down the hall and yells, "I think he’s down there." Disturbed, I move in that direction and bump into you as you are finishing a chess game with our sales manager. I ask you to step into my office (which has been temporarily turned into a television room for watching afternoon soap operas).
"What in the world is going on, man?"
"What do ya’ mean, Gary?"
"Well, look at this place! Didn’t you get any of my letters?"
"Letters? Oh, yeah -- sure, got every one of them. As a matter of fact, Gary, we have had letter study every Friday night since you left. We have even divided all the personnel into small groups and discussed many of the things you wrote. Some of those things were really interesting. You’ll be pleased to know that a few of us have actually memorized some of your sentences and paragraphs. One guy even memorized an entire letter or two! Great stuff in those letters!"
"Okay, okay -- you got my letters, you studied them, discussed, and even memorized them. But then what did you do?"
"Do? Uh -- we didn’t do anything."
Today, let’s look at three reasons obedience is better than sacrifice. Then, perhaps we will stop offering God a religious substitute for what He really wants.
I.Obedience, not religious sacrifice, is what God most desires. (22)
A.Let’s clarify what we mean by obedience and sacrifice.
1.Obedience is doing the will and seeking to please someone in authority over you.
2.Sacrifice is seeking to appease or cool off the anger of an authority you have disobeyed.
B.Disobedience results in a need to sacrifice. Obedience prevents the need for sacrifice.
1.Obedience brings blessing, but disobedience results in a curse.
2.Under Old Testament Law, sacrifice was done to prevent or to remove the curse of sin. It was a payment for having disobeyed.
3.Those sacrifices were accepted by God, but they were never what He wanted most.
A man really wanted to help his son understand the importance of making right choices. So, if his son made a bad decision, he’d give him a nail, send him to a post in the back yard, and have him hammer the nail into the post. Whenever he went through the whole day making good decisions, he’d let him go out and remove one of those nails.
From about eight years old until about fifteen, there were always 2 or 3 nails in the post. He was nailing them in and pulling them out. But as he matured, finally all the nails were removed. He felt pretty good. Then his dad took him out and said, "I want you to notice something about this post." The boy suddenly realized that all the nail holes in the post were still there. His dad said, "I want to tell you something about bad choices, son. You may be completely forgiven; there are no nails left, but you do have the remaining effects. That post will never be the same again."
C.Though God may accept a sincere sacrifice, He desires obedience even more. (22a)