Isn’t it irritating when your children almost follows your instructions? I think it is, especially when my child almost follows during school time.
I am a newbie homeschooling mother. My student is a bright, hard-headed five-year old boy. I try to give him enough praise to keep him enjoying school and enough criticism to help him learn. I am learning it is a gentle balance. However, too much praise and my student begins to think that he has surpassed the teacher.
In math, he is being taught a certain method to handle number problems. The method helps him to learn how to work the problems out mentally. During the last few math times, he expressed to me that he knew the best way to do the problems and that was different from the way I was teaching him. After explaining the difference in the two approaches, he conceded and worked the problem the way it was being taught. He doesn’t understand that under my direction, I can save him math troubles ahead because I have already been through what he is going through.
We often treat God that way. Regardless of God’s way, we want to know and do things our way. Taking God’s direct words and mushing them around in our mind, we think we are obeying, when we truly missed the point. In 1 Samuel 15 (read here), Saul is given the command straight from God to utterly destroy the Amalekites. No man, woman, child, baby, ox, sheep, camel, or donkey was to survive. When Saul attacked the Amalekites, he took the king alive, almost destroyed the people and spared the best of the animals. He was so proud of himself, that he constructed a monument to himself (not giving God the credit for the victory) and praised himself for following God’s commands.
Following through Heart Obedience
When confronted by Samuel, he rationalized and blamed his people for keeping the animals as sacrifices for the Lord. Many times, we rationalize our disobedience by giving honor to God, making up where our obedience lacked. As this, in our hard head, nulls out what we have done. Even half obedience is disobedience. The whole is disregarded.
We rationalize our disobedience by giving honor to God, making up where our obedience lacked. Even half obedience is disobedience.
Samuel eventually tells Saul that “to obey is better than sacrifice.” The ritual is not greater than true heart obedience. In Biblical times, sacrifice was a physical outpouring of obedience to God. The animal’s blood had no atoning power. If it did, we would be equating an animal sacrifice to the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross. There is the no comparison. The hinging of the sacrificial system depended on the heart obedience of the believer.
In our own spiritual life, we need more than just rationalized ritual. We need true heart obedience. Just like my smart little boy, who needed to humble himself to outside teaching to understand his math lesson, we also need to humble ourselves, listen clearly to God’s commands, and carry them out as He directs us.
For further Bible study on this post, click here.