Obedience is better than sacrifice.

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

Proverbs 21:3 (NIV)
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Proverbs 21:3 (MSG)
Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to God than religious performance.
“To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice [for wrongs repeatedly committed].” -AMPLIFIED

This proverb is Solomon’s take on a lesson that Samuel tried to teach King Saul. “But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.” -1 Samuel 15:22 (NIV)

Never doubt the fact that sometimes God calls us to do difficult, seemingly impossible things for Him from time-to-time. Case in point: Mary the mother of Jesus. Here we have a young girl approached by one of God’s arch-angels, Gabriel, with news from the throne room of God. Mary could have very well rejected this news from God. She could have decided that what God required of her was more than she could give….but she did not. Notice her answer to the news that Gabriel had given her; “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” -Luke 1:38 (NIV)

To obey Adonai was Mary’s immediate response and reaction. There was no doubt in her mind. Yes, she had questions. Yes, she needed to understand “how” things could and would happen, but even though God called her to a difficult task Mary was willing to obey.

Let us not forget Joseph; who was called to an equally difficult assignment. Here we have a man who was expectantly waiting to marry the woman he loved, only to find out that she was pregnant. His first thoughts were to quietly break off the engagement, but then he too has a visit from an angel; this time it happened in a dream. The angel says to Joseph, “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term: Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son; they will name him Emmanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).” -Matthew 1:20-21 (MSG)

Joseph’s response? We find he too was quick to obey. “When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” -Matthew 1:24-25 (NIV)

“To do what is right and good and fair is more pleasing to the Lord than gifts given on the altar in worship.” (NLV) Matthew Henry gives us some very strong words on this verse. “It is implied that many deceive themselves with a conceit that, if they offer sacrifice, that will excuse them from doing justice, and procure them a dispensation for their unrighteousness; and this makes their way seem right, Proverbs 21:2. We have fasted, Isaiah 58:3. I have peace-offerings with me, Proverbs 7:14. 2. It is plainly declared that living a good life (doing justly and loving mercy) is more pleasing to God than the most pompous and expensive instances of devotion.” (Complete Commentary on the Bible)

The old adage, “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” falls flat when it comes to obeying what God has called us to do. God is calling His children to step out in obedience and do great things for Him. We may not know what the outcome will be, (neither Mary nor Joseph did) but God is expecting us to be obedient to His bidding.

Please remember this truth that Paul gave us when making decisions: “Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]! So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.” -2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (MSG)

My Prayer:

Lord, my desire is to be obedient to you in everything that you have called me to do. Sometimes the tasks seem larger than life and I am often faced with fear. Remind me that obedience is better than sacrifice. Help me to trust that if you have called me you will equip me. Help me to remember that nothing is impossible with you. If you have called me you are certainly able to bring it to pass. Lord, I will trust you and be obedient to your bidding. Here am I, Lord, use me.


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