Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Partial obedience is not obedience...

"But Samuel replied: 'Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice and to heed is better than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is like the sin of divination and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord has rejected you as king." - 1 Samuel 15:22

And with those words, Saul's reign over Israel was over. He was no longer king. 


Because partial obedience is not obedience.  Saul was given clear instructions from the Lord but CHOSE to change them up a bit; CHOSE to do things a little differently.  His choices showed arrogance by thinking he knew better than God on how the plan should be carried out.  Oh, he followed MOST of the instructions, perhaps 80-90% of the instructions were carried out; he only modified them in two areas.  Subtle. Seemingly insignificant tweaks.  Saul later would justify these tweaks by saying he only did them to honor God.  Hmm....

Yet, the Lord did not count that as obeying His word.  And neither should we.

How many times have I counted following most of God's instructions as complete obedience?

How many times have I tweaked God's word to appease myself, yet still count it as obedience?

How many times have I justified sidestepping, ever so subtly, a command of the Lord to continue down the path that I have chosen, yet still telling myself that I'm honoring God?  

This isn't just about the specific, life-calling commands, either.  This about all of God's word, in its entirety.  You know, those commands for our daily living that we are all called to - the 70x7 rule; 'don't gossip' rule (that is repeated over and over); the command to use my time wisely; to be self-disciplined; do not complain or argue; be slow to anger... the list could go on and on.

The point through Saul's story is that God doesn't want our sacrifices and offerings AS MUCH AS He wants our obedience. No!  He wants our obedience above all else! Saul is a case study in what percentage God's wants our obedience as well.  50% obedient?  How about 80%?  Or 98% but I'm just gonna change this one, little, itty-bitty detail over here???  Is that accepting and pleasing to God?  Nope.  He wants 100%.  

He demands 100% from us. From me.  Like Saul, when we give 80-90%, we are still keeping us on the throne of our heart and trying to share the King's chair.  We are still staking claim to being in control - even at 5%.  That 5% (or whatever percentage is held back to control) is rebellion and arrogance.  Not my words.  God's word. 

When I chose to modify, tweak or otherwise hold back even an ever so small portion of my heart and, thus, my obedience, I have made myself an idol and pitted myself against God in competing for who gets to be in control.I must submit to the Lord completely and in full compliance; not thinking I have the authority to tweak His instruction or that I have a better way of doing things.  Now, THAT is arrogant!  May I not repeat Saul's mistake of holding back a portion of my obedience and may my heart be soft and open to submitting to God's instructions for me. 

Father God, forgive me for not always giving you 100% obedience.  Help me to  keep my heart submissive to Your instructions.  Help me to walk your path and not my own, or even a path someone else wants me to walk.  Let me not get in the way of Your work in me, through me and through others.  Amen.

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  1. "Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord has rejected you as king." That verse punches me in the gut every single time. What a great passage to study!

    1. That is a gut punch verse! There's just no middle ground with issues like obedience to God. His partial obedience was seen as "rejecting the word of the Lord". This has been a sobering yet encouraging passage to work through!