Getting up early and going to the gym is not easy. It is hard losing sleep, pulling myself out of bed every morning. Physically walking into the gym takes work for me, and from this list, most would say it appears to be a sacrifice. But imagine doing all of these things only to get into the gym and look around? Fully dressed in workout gear, just to sit. If I never make up in my mind that I need to exercise for there to be a physical change, nothing happens. I get out of the bed for naught. It seems that I am “sacrificing,” but I am just really going through the motions.
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.~1 Samuel 15:22 NIV
The prophet Samuel was chastising King Saul after he had messed up by sacrificing without sincerity. I don’t know about your household but sometimes I have this same mindset in my marriage. I showed up; that should be enough. I made you breakfast today; that should be enough. I listened to you instead of putting the game on; that should be enough. But by carrying this attitude, we miss the true blessing of sacrifice found in obedience to God. He requires sincerity, which requires sacrifice far beyond just showing up.
In my walk with God, I have learned that sometimes obedience stretches us far beyond sacrifice. Obedience requires more. Contrary to how it seems in my mind, obedience is where I really can grow. Sacrifice is what we give up, but obedience is when we give in.
Sacrifice is what we give up, but obedience is when we give in.~Charles E. Maldon, Jr.
We tend to use the word sacrifice loosely in our marriages. On the surface it appears to be the harder of the two. But the truth is, sacrifice can be an outward expression of what could be real or not truly in my heart. The key words being “outward expression.” While we might display sprinkles of sacrifice, it is harder to live it consistently. Sacrifice can be considered temporary whereas obedience is a daily lifestyle. Obedience requires awareness of my actions and my attitude day by day, and even moment by moment.
The book of James gives us an indication of how God views obedience or submissive compliance. It is not enough to say with our mouths or give the appearance (sacrifice) of righteousness, but it is what is in our hearts (obedience). What is in my heart will be displayed through my actions. I can do a lot of things with the “appearance” of right motives, but God chases me down to open my heart. To peek in to see if there is submitted compliance.
“You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone” (James 2:24, emphasis added, NIV).
“God is spirit, and those who worship must worship God in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24 NIV).
What does this all mean? I need to align what I say and what I do with God so He is glorified. God is pleased when my wife asks for help completing housework and I just don’t say okay, but instead I begin vacuuming or dusting. When my children need to talk about the pressures of the day, I listen. I stop from preparing for tomorrow’s meeting and I give them my undivided attention. This demonstrates loving obedience, not just momentary sacrifice. That is what God cares about. He cares about not just the how but the why. The inward change that follows when we practice submission more than just action. It is a blessing when my wife and children need my help, and my response is not out of obligation but positioned in love.
A familiar story is of Abraham and his son Isaac, whom he loved so much. God tested Abraham’s faith and commitment by telling him to sacrifice his son. Like any parent, such a command would challenge your faith in God and even question your hearing from God. What is amazing is Abraham “positioned” his son as the sacrifice without a thought of his own emotional state. His sacrifice was his obedience to the Lord and he was not just going through outward motions.
“Abraham said, ‘God will provide for Himself The lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ So, the two of them walked on together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him; and Abraham built the altar there and arranged the wood, and bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood” (Genesis 22:8,9 NIV).
Moving beyond sacrifice and displaying actions from an obedient heart, Abraham followed God’s command out of love for a timeless God, which positioned Abraham for a blessing.
Let’s follow Samuel and Abraham’s example of sacrificial love and obedience to God. This is what our marriages need.
Will you do the same in your marriage? Let’s not just give lip service or appearance, but in true sincere devotion, love.
Lord, help me to honor You with more than outward appearances by my inward obedience. Help me also show true love in my marriage and to my children. Help me to position not only my outward actions, but my heart onto the altar, in order to impart Your blessing to my family. Allow me to leave the outcome to you.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Copyright 2020: Beyond The Sacrifice: Charles E. Maldon, Jr.: All Rights Reserved.
Meet Our Contributor
CHARLES E. MALDON, JR.
Charles E. Maldon Jr., is an ordained reverend, speaker, writer, and mentor. However, the title he is most proud of is a servant of Christ. His mission in life is to encourage others to know their true value by developing an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ. As the Lord continues to mold him, Charles uses his colorful life experiences, both “good and bad”, as real-life ministry tools. He believes there are treasures to be found in every trial – perspective is everything.
The crux of his writing is to bring others to freedom through authentic transparency. In addition to his writing, Maldon is the establisher of Naked But Not Ashamed Ministries which focuses on helping the family, especially men, be all that Christ created them to be. He enjoys helping men to fulfill there calling in life, relationships and manhood.
He is currently in the process of revising his book, In the Beginning: Godliness through Marriage. He is a member of the Maryland Writer’s Association and recently has joined Word Weavers. He also blogs on his ministry page Naked But Not Ashamed where his hope is that he touches someone with the love of Jesus where they are through his writing. He is a devotion/article writer for VineWords: Devotions and More, specializing in the area of marriage, with the goal of helping men improve their marriages.
Charles is the proud father of two boys and resides in Maryland with his lovely wife. In his spare time, he enjoys working out, traveling and spending time with the family.
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