Obey or sacrifice, which is better?

Posted 15 Nov 2017

‘But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.” ‘ – 1 Samuel 15:22 (NLT)

I have been thinking about the question “Why is obedience better than sacrifice?”

I think it is a matter of our hearts, or inner attitudes. In ancient Bible times, the Israelites were taught to offer sacrifices to atone for (take away) their sins against the Lord. Now an Israelite could offer a sacrifice out of a sense of duty, or obligation, or out of fear of the consequences if he didn’t, or just about any other attitude. That is still true today: if we offer some sort of sacrifice we too can do it out of a sense of duty, or out of fear, etc.

Obedience (to anything, or anyone) only came to the Israelites if they were convinced that it was a good idea to obey. In the case of their obedience to God, the Israelites had a relationship to the person they were obeying – they realised that it was right, proper and good to offer their obedience. This holds true for us today; obedience to God only comes when we are convinced it is the right thing to do; and that we want to please God by offering our obedience. Therefore, obedience comes only as a result of a close, personal relationship with God. No-one would obey God if they do not have a relationship with Him first. Christian obedience to God is born out of love and trust in Him.

I think it all comes down to the heart attitudes behind either offering sacrifices because we “ought” to, or obedience, because we WANT to.

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