Getting up early and going to the gym is a sacrifice–losing sleep, pulling myself out of bed every morning, walking into the gym.
But imagine doing these things and not being able to use the equipment. Being fully dressed in workout gear only to sit makes no sense. Unless I exercise, nothing happens. I would just be 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
Samuel chastised King Saul because Saul had insincerely sacrificed to the Lord.
Sometimes, I have the same mindset with my marriage. I think, I showed up, I made breakfast, and I listened instead of looking at the game.
Obedience stretches us beyond sacrifice. Obedience is where I make significant growth. Sacrifice is what I give up, but obedience is when I give in. But the effort is worth it because we gain in the end.
We often use the word sacrifice loosely in our marriages. On the surface, it appears more difficult than obedience. But sacrifice is an outward expression of what is in our hearts.
While we might display sprinkles of sacrifice, living it consistently is more challenging. Sacrifice is temporary whereas obedience is daily. Obedience requires constant awareness of my actions and attitudes.
James tells how God views obedience or submissive compliance. It is not enough to give the appearance of righteousness. Obedience flows from our hearts. I can do a lot with the appearance of the right motives, but God chases me down and peeks into my heart 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 NIV).
- “God is spirit, and those who worship must worship God in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24 NIV).
We should align what we say and do with God’s Word, but how?
God is pleased when my wife asks for help with the housework, and I begin vacuuming or dusting.
- When my children need to talk about the pressures of the day, I give them my undivided attention.
Such acts of service demonstrate loving obedience, not just momentary sacrifice. The inward change that follows when we practice submission is more than just action.
A familiar story of obedience concerns Abraham and his son Isaac. God tested Abraham’s commitment by telling him to sacrifice his son. For a parent, such a command would challenge our belief in God. Abraham positioned his son as the sacrifice without a thought of his own emotional state. His sacrifice was shown through his obedience.
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
Abraham followed God’s command out of love for a timeless God, which positioned Abraham for a blessing. God honored Abraham’s obedience, and his son was spared. Our commitment to God comes first, and, from there, our family is blessed by our loving sacrifice to serve them.
Let’s follow Samuel and Abraham’s example of sacrificial love and obedience to God. Then, let’s show the high regard we have for our spouses and family. This is what our marriages and children need.
Will you move beyond lip service or appearance and give love?
Lord, help me to honor You with more than outward appearances. Help me show true love to my spouse and children. Help me put my heart on the altar to impart Your blessing to my family. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Copyright 2020: Beyond the Sacrifice: Charles E. Maldon, Jr.: All Rights Reserved.