Thursday, April 12, 2012

Love = Obedience = Sacrifice

A couple months ago I had a conversation with a friend about what was more important, obedience or sacrifice. The point I was making was obedience to God’s voice leads to the surrender (sacrifice) and giving away of one’s self. It’s our sacrifice which reveals our obedience. He said obedience to God’s voice is far more important than our sacrifice, to which I 100% agree. Without obedience, there is no sacrifice that glorifies God. When I look back at the story of Jesus in the garden and recount His prayer before His crucifixion. Although He struggled and agonized in prayer over God’s plan for salvation, He ultimately submitted Himself and said “not My will, but Yours be done”. Then He obediently followed God's plan and willingly sacrificed all of Himself. His obedience HAD to result in sacrifice. I think we were essentially arguing different sides of the same coin. Regardless, that conversation has been stuck in my head (and the text history in my phone) for a couple months now.

Fast forward to my quiet time this morning and I read: 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

That’s all it took to spur a recounting of the above conversation and solidify how obedience and sacrifice fit together. Obedience is no doubt the measure of our maturity in Christ. You want to measure your "spiritual maturity"? Here's one question you can ask (this is not THE only measure): Do I obey God when He directs me? Obedience is no doubt how we measure our success in Christ. My church (Element Church in Cheyenne, WY) recently re-worded our core values. Our first core values reads: Obedience IS our success! - Our success will not be determined by outcome but by obedience to God. Obedience is the measure. Obedience is what matters to God.

Sacrifice should be a result of our obedience. That is not to say that people sacrifice things and think they are doing it to the glory of God. Sometimes we have our own preconceived notions as to what glorifies Him and we go to great lengths to do those things, regardless of whether they are disobedient to God (i.e. the case of Saul above). Those things are often our way of bolstering our ego making them the result of pride and intended to bring us recognition. This is far from obedience.

Jesus said, "If you love Me obey my commands." (John 14:15). Obedience is the result and evidence of our love. We obey because we love. Sometimes God will ask us to sacrifice something. Every time God will ask us to surrender ourselves and submit to Him. Our only response is obedience. In that regard, our sacrifice, our surrender, our submission should only be a result of our being obedient to God. Anything surrendered outside of obedience is chaff and doesn't matter because it doesn't glorify God.

Here's how it goes: Love = Obedience = Sacrifice.

Any other order doesn't add up the same.

Striving for obedience,
Bruce