Grudge Match: Obedience vs. Sacrifice

Carrying on the theme of the past couple of days, there is one verse in the Bible that has always given me fits. It’s found in I Samuel 15:22 and says “…Obedience is better than sacrifice…” 

It is so natural for me to take that verse and turn it around to say “sacrifice is better than obedience.” In fact, I often misquote it just like that. I even had to retype it on this post because I wrote it the wrong way. 

I think part of my problem with this verse is I’ve always had a hard time of understanding why. Why isn’t God more pleased with sacrifice than mere obedience? Our lives as Christians are supposed to be marked and separated by our sacrifice. Aren’t we called to daily pick up our cross and sacrifice ourselves? Not to mention, the very reason we are Christians is wholly due to Jesus’ sacrifice. So I don’t get it — shouldn’t sacrifice get top billing over obedience? 

What’s worse, the implication is that maybe my sacrifices don’t mean as much to God as they do to me. I think this is what I’ve had the most trouble wrapping my head around. Subconsciously I like to think God has a great big scoreboard tracking all the times I traded something I wanted in deference to what he wanted. So someday when I get to heaven, he’ll hit the “total” button and hand me my reward. This verse leaves that notion in the dust. 

Or does it? One day it all clicked while reading the story in Luke of the widow who gave everything she had as an offering to God: 

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to had to live on”   Luke 21:1-4 (NIV) 

Tomorrow – a new look at this old story.

Live The Mission,
Greg