Learning why obedience and sacrifice are inseparable, and how they work
As Christians we are always reminded of the importance of sacrificing our own will to do the will of God. Our faithfulness is a direct result of the effort we put into our sacrificial lives. The Old Testament overflows with regulations and propriety regarding making sacrifices to God. These include not only animals sacrifices but grain, oil and other things as well. In short, sacrifice is an enormous part of the entire Bible. Why? Were sacrifices to be made to get God’s attention? Is sacrifice in the Old or New Testament there to show God we are sorry for our sins? What about the principle of obeying God’s will? How does that fit in? Can we obey without sacrificing and can we sacrifice without obeying? If we were to put obedience on one side of a scale and sacrifice on the other side, which would carry more weight?
Does this really have to be a big deal? Can’t we just say “Look, God wants you to follow His directions and He wants you to give Him stuff to show you are paying attention!” No! Why not? Because neither of those statements even remotely reflects the truth of the matter. Let’s start with what obedience actually means. The Old Testament word carries the sense of “hearing intelligently.” This is important because it implies comprehensive understanding when we are given God’s instruction.
Clean your room!
When a child is told by their parent to clean their room, why would they comply even if they don’t want to? Is it because they reason that a clean room reflects their respect for their family and themselves? Do they think about how important it is to establish good habits and discipline when young? Probably not! Most likely they clean it because they don’t want to get in trouble. They are obeying for the most basic reasons. They follow through because they know it is ultimately the path of least resistance.
The broadest way to describe biblical sacrifice is the bringing of an offering, the bringing of something before God as a gift. As Christian adults, we often look at our fulfillment of the “sacrifice” part of our lives as being fulfilled by things like going to church. We figure that if we engage in praise, worship and learning on somewhat of a regular basis, we are covered. What we are really doing is being like that child who knows cleaning their room is less trouble than not cleaning it. We are finding an easy way to do what is required. We are not listening intelligently.
Check out our June 1, 2020 podcast, “Is Obedience More Important than Sacrifice?” for more. It turns out this whole obedience and sacrifice equation is taught throughout all of Scripture. What’s more, it is applied in a variety of ways to a variety of people. The end results are powerful lessons on how to actually please and honor God, not just on Sunday, but every day. This is something we all should know more about!
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