“Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the LORD?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
to heed than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22
Much as we are loathe to admit it, obedience is better than sacrifice. We can try to hedge and make excuses, but we know, in the end, that doing the right thing is better than making up for doing the wrong thing. And that’s Samuel’s point to Saul in this verse.
Saul had been given a task—go wipe out the Amalekites—and he had not done it. Saul’s excuse had something to do with the people (blame shifting) and making sacrifices (appeasement) and ultimately led him to think that he had been obedient. He was believing his own press so hard that he had begun to think it was true.
The same can happen to me. God gives very direct instruction—love God with everything I am and love my neighbor as myself—and I can do one of three things with it: obey it, disobey and admit I did wrong, or disobey and deceive myself into thinking I did something right. I have, in my time, done all three of these. The first is the best. It leaves me with a clean conscience and in right standing with God. No problems. The second is not as good, but is better than the last. With the second is the recognition that I have done wrong and the ability to be reconciled to God. The last is, by far, the worst of the three. If I think I’m doing something right—or, at least, not wrong—then I don’t see any need to reconcile with God and figure I can continue along my merry way.
The question this morning is whether or not there is anything God has told me to do that I have left undone and convinced myself I’m okay. If so, then I need to get my head screwed on straight about that thing, confess my wrong to God, and start moving forward. If no, then I need to stay my course of doing the right thing and confessing when I don’t.