Tomorrow morning, my church, Seaford Baptist, will observe “Sacrifice Sunday”. This will be a time, rather, a morning set aside for the congregation to bring a “sacrifice” to our church and symbolically place it into a chest on the altar. The hope and prayer behind this concept is to work toward paying off our debt in order to be able to free up our budget to do ministry–to be more available and prepared to minister as God leads SBC in the future.
I have prayed and struggled over what to place into that wooden chest since it was first announced. Tonight I am at peace over what I believe God has led me to do. However, I am even more challenged by the words of Samuel as spoken to Saul in 1st Samuel 15:22.
A little background first: God sent King Saul on a mission—to destroy the Amalekites. The exact command is as such:
18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’
“Fight against them until they are consumed. Yesterday morning on my early drive to work, I came upon a “Just Happened” accident involving 5 cars that I could tell, one of them being a mini-van that was on fire. Not just a little one fire. It was being consumed by fire. It was completely engulfed. There was going to be nothing left of that mini-van. A disconcerting and disturbing sight. But my point is, it was consumed. And the Amalekites were to be consumed as well.
But King Saul, thinking on his own gave this excuse to Samuel as to why the Amalekites and all of their possessions were not completely consumed:
“But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”
A good thing–at least in King Saul’s mind. And yet it was not what the Lord had required of him. It was not complete obedience.
Samuel goes on to say what sounds like harsh words to King Samual:
22 And Samuel said, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices,
as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
he has also rejected you from being king.
Wow. But God, don’t you see that the people’s intentions were good? Don’t you see all the spoil and riches and animals they have brought to sacrifice to you?
To obey is better than sacrifice. To obey is better than sacrifice. Rebellion is as the sin of divination. Tough, tough words.
I don’t write this to be critical of Sacrifice Sunday, instead I write it in full support of the day. As long as we remember that to obey God is what He desires. Sometimes–no, a lot of times I think it is probably easier to sacrifice than to obey. I know it is with me. I can write a check, give to a cause, go without something in order to provide aid somewhere easier than I can obey my God and my Jesus. Because rebellion is my default track. Rebellion is what comes easy, and I am sad to say that sometimes I answer my God with “But God–I know I disobeyed you, but don’t you see how much I’ve sacrificed for good things, for good reasons?”
So part of my responsibility on Sacrifice Sunday is to commit to be more aware of obeying my God. And to pray for my church, that God will bless the sacrifices given tomorrow so that we are freed up financially–not just to do good “things” but to be obedient to what it is God would have us to do in the future.