“To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams” 1 Samuel 15:1
King Saul had been commanded by God to do a hard thing… a complete thing…to destroy a nation, everything in it! But King Saul didn’t fully understand why He would command that and decided that it would be far more glorious to save the King of that nation and bring him back in shame as well as to save the best animals and offer them up as a sacrifice to God upon returning home champions. What Saul didn’t realize was that in partial obedience and in desiring to bring sacrifice to God vs. what was actually commanded of him, he was torn from his kingdom as king and God regretted ever making him king in the first place.
Guys, that’s serious stuff. I know my children like to partially obey when it’s convenient to them to do so… even making it look like it benefits me for them to change the plans. (Zoe is especially talented at this) Nobody has to teach them to do this… it comes naturally. (and doesn’t stop when you grow out of childhood…because I know I am often guilty of this in my marriage) But I’m trying to teach them that partial obedience is really full disobedience. That sacrifice on their part is not really what I’m most after… what I want is to know they are tuned in to what I’m saying to them. Because that’s what’s going to matter most… that is what will be most life giving to them. I see the big picture. I love them and want their happiness. I know what is truly best for them.
Dan and I have often had to have honest conversations with ourselves as we embarked upon each new adoption.
Are we doing this out of a need to feel like we are doing great things for God because in some way we want His approval?
Do we feel that God will bless us more if we do radical things in His name?
Are we looking for praise from others that we will be known as doing noble and selfless things for God?
Do we have a need inside of us that God isn’t meeting but should be that we are looking to be met in adopting or doing some other great thing in His name?
Are we prepared to sacrifice the very thing we feel led to do if we felt like obedience to Him would ask us to?
What does full obedience look like right now? Are we running from something that we know we should be doing because adopting can fill its place instead?
Do we find more identity in doing for God rather than in being His child?
Being…that’s hard for me… I feel way more inclined to spend hours doing great things in the name of God than to sit and rest in His presence and letting my work flow out of that state of peace and favor already found in Him. I have found that I’ve actually had to sometimes put GOOD things on the back burner because I know that the main thing isn’t the main thing anymore.
It’s a theme repeated over and over throughout Scripture,
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).
“To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices” (Mark 12:33).
“Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:7-8).
“Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God” (Luke 11:42).
He wants our hearts friends!! He wants us to trust and obey. NOT as in “I’m keeping all the rules” obedience… but as in a “O Lord, command what you will and will what you command” as St. Augustine once prayed.
So while adoption is usually the very thing He is asking of you…. check your heart and make sure that adoption is flowing out of a place of being HIS. We are adopted as children of God who have full favor not because of our sacrificial actions or noble deeds but solely based upon His choosing to set His love upon us and call us His own…. it is from here that we adopt.