Last night I taught on giving and I used a passage of scripture that I don’t think I have ever heard anyone teach on before. 1 Samuel 15. There (understandably) were some left over questions that either didn’t get answered in full for sake of time and some questions whose answers are too difficult to accept.
One of the first things I said was that whatever we think is wrong or right, if it goes against the Bible we are wrong. This means that we (Christians) must be people who live under God’s authority and sometimes this means changing a position or belief regardless of conviction.
Another thing we talk about was that God calls us all to costly sacrifice but if we are sacrificing without obedience then we aren’t really doing what God asked us to do. This is like when your teacher asks you to write a five paragraph essay on jazz, but you aren’t a fan of jazz, you like blues so you write a 10 page paper on blues. Yeah, it’s a sacrifice because of how much more work you put into it, but it wasn’t what was required. It’s in this way that we can see that sacrifice without obedience is sin. When Jesus quotes Hosea about desiring mercy and not sacrifice he’s doing so knowing that mercy is done in obedience to God. It should also be known that for Saul to eliminate the Amalekites was out of mercy.
The text also shows us that Saul considered the Lord to not be his Lord but Samuel’s. Saul wanted the blessing of God without actually having to do what God said. I think this is actually what most people and especially Christians try to do. We try to do things our way while also getting what we need and want from God. God is not your monkey. He’s not the vending machine that you feed money to and press the right prayer combination to get what you want. When we look at the folly of Saul we must remember that we are not above this and we do it on a much smaller scale, but the impact of this sort of sin often causes us all to fall to our knees and tear the robe of the man of God.
Saul’s faux repentance is about as convincing as that plastic cutlery that is made to look like silver. It may glisten in the light but something about it doesn’t look right. Then you pick it up and realize there’s no weight to it. This is why God was done with Saul as King. True sacrifice as it turns out is obedience. This is also why God is done with many Church’s. When a Church does not give sacrificially out of obedience it sacrifices the glory of God for the comfort of man. This is why Jesus warns us in Matthew 21:43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.
May we endeavor to be people who give out of obedience thereby producing the fruits of God’s kingdom.