Surely to obey is better than sacrifice…
This is the story of a disobedient little crab that shall remain nameless to protect his identity. This was indeed a reprobate crab, since he was not prone to listen to advice or to respond to correction. Every morning he was warned by his mother,
“Remember not to go in the water. You still do not know how to swim!”
The crab, being rebellious, chose to “forget” his mother’s words. Looking at the beautiful blue sea with its attractive waves, he decided to disobey her warning. To the sea he went, without stopping to consider the consequences or risks of his daring action. He was so happy in his adventure that he became convinced his mother was wrong. At that precise moment, an enormous pelican captured the crab and would have eaten him were it not for a miraculous escape.
When the little crab returned home (late), he noticed that his mother was furious and ready to punish him for being so disobedient. Not even with an expensive gift was he able to calm her righteous indignation.
Saul, the first king of Israel, behaved just like the little crab. He thought he could please God with gifts and sacrifices. At the same time, he disobeyed God. For this reason God began to dislike “disobedient” sacrifices and offerings.
If we do not obey Jesus, our sacrifices and activities will not bring joy to the Lord. God seeks a submissive and obedient heart that is willing to obey Him with love. In such a believer is our Lord well pleased, for sacrifices without obedience are as satisfying to Jesus as the kiss he received from Judas.
The Expectation of Hatred
“...Israel had become odious to the Philistines...”
King Saul had been reigning for two years and so far, he had not had any conflict with the Philistines. But one day, Saul and his son Jonathan attacked their hated neighbors. This action resulted in the immediate hatred of the Philistines, who from that moment on became declared enemies of Israel.
If this sounds too violent for you, or if you think that you will never have conflicts with your enemies, I have news for you! The moment we decide to live publicly for Christ, conflicts and afflictions will come knocking at our door. I wish this were not true and that I would have “better” news for you, but the Bible declares that Christians will always have enemies on this earth.
The life of Christ in us, “attacks” and offends those who live in darkness. If we also decide to add a healthy dose of evangelism to our godly testimony, we can be assured of the hatred of the “Philistines” of this world.
Will everyone hate us? Certainly not!
Do we need to practice “aggressive” evangelism? It depends.
If by aggressive, we mean an active and faithful proclamation of the gospel, then by all means! If on the other hand this word refers to a verbal assault, or lack of consideration on our part; then we must refrain from becoming odious to others.
Before we preach to unbelievers, we should listen to them in an effort to minister to their needs. Nevertheless, we must continue to shine brightly for Jesus --- regardless of the consequences.