Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Best Sheep & Goats

I was reading I Samuel 15 today. How this story strikes at my heart. God tells Saul to destroy the Amalekites down to the very last sheep, but Saul leaves the Amalekite king alive and his men only destroy the seemingly worthless things and kept the best cattle, sheep, etc. for themselves. When Samuel confronts him, Saul, in a truly human way, argues that he did obey God, even though he didn't obey God, because they kept the best animals for sacrificing to the Lord.

This passage of scripture is heartbreaking to me:
When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!”
“Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.
“It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”
How often do I do this? How often do I say, "I'm obeying God, but in this area where I'm clearly not obeying Him, it's because I am still serving Him. Truly. Honestly. I have a good reason." What are your sheep and goats? For instance, I wonder about this in regards to how I deal with money. Do I really believe in Jesus' way of poverty (Luke 12:13-34), or do I convince myself that I am better able to serve God by holding on to the money I have? Where is the line of a servant's responsibility (Luke 19:11-27) versus my sinful, Saul-like excuses that I need to save the good plunder for God instead of doing what He told me to do with it? I wonder.

Saul's actions lead God to reject him as king of Israel and to this beautiful verse:
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.
God wants our obedience and submission. He does not delight in our sacrifices, but delights in our hearts when we show mercy and seek His heart (Matt 9:13; Hosea 6:6). How often do we instead stammer out excuses like Saul before Samuel, convinced that we somehow are doing something better for God than simply obeying Him?

Back again. I think.

My baby turns four months old today. It has somehow simultaneous been the longest and the shortest four months of my life. Every day is similar and as I pass day after day being at home with an infant, doing five thousand loads of laundry, I am somehow surprised to find myself in the middle of May. Perhaps the fact that it is still snowing is also playing tricks with my sense of time. Anyway, that is all to say that I am starting to settle into life with a baby and I am hoping to steal away for a blog post during a nap here and there. We will see how it goes. I make no promises!