The Better Choice

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But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22 NLT)

As we travel down the road of life, we are faced with many choices. Some choices seem easy at first, but have hard consequences later on. Some of the difficult decisions that we have to go through seem to be a lot simpler on the other side.

Today, we see Samuel giving Saul a message from God to destroy the Amalekite people for their sin and against Him and His people. The LORD instructs Saul to completely destroy every thing and every person. Saul rushes off with 210,00 troops and wins a great victory. However, Saul captures King Agag of Amalek and the best of his sheep, goats, cattle, calves, and lambs. Scripture goes even further to mention that they kept only what appealed to them. Notice here that these things appealed to them, not God. In fact, they destroyed everything that was of poor quality or worthless.

Saul returns home after a great victory, but here comes old Samuel to meet with Saul. Before Saul had even arrived, God had spoken to Samuel and told him what had happened. God was not pleased with the choice that Saul made. When Samuel confronts Saul about the “bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle,” Saul quickly tell him that he was not keep them for himself. They were to be sacrificed to the LORD.

Oh, sure, Saul! You were not going to keep any of the animals for yourself! In fact, I am sure that the reason that you kept King Agag was to sacrifice him to the LORD as well. Samuel and God see right through this ploy. Samuel answers in verse 22. Basically, he tells Saul that obedience is much better than gifts or offerings. If we cannot even obey the commands of God, what does it mean that we offer Him a present? God is not impressed by what we say we are going to do, but what we actually do.

This decision costs Saul. Verse 35 says that Samuel never went to meet with Saul again. and, chapter 16 begins with God leading Samuel to a new leader for the people. We have to be careful about the choices we make and the intentions behind those choices.

Soli Deo Gloria!

The First 10%

Be sure to give to the Lord the best portions of the gifts given to you. (Numbers 18:29 NLT)

I find myself thinking during the day, “Am I doing my best?”. With that last project, “did I give it my best effort?” With the last email I wrote, “was I polite enough, thorough enough?”

In Numbers, God directs Moses to tell the people that the first 10% of everything they do or have belongs to Him.

“However, you may not redeem the firstborn of cattle, sheep, or goats. They are holy and have been set apart for the Lord. Sprinkle their blood on the altar, and burn their fat as a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord.” (Numbers 18:17 NLT)

What is interesting is that God tells them to not even count that possession, they do not have to redeem it. It never belonged to them. It was never theirs in the first place, it belonged to God.

How many times do we grumble when we “have to” give to the Lord a portion of our “hard-earned money”? How many times do we complain about spending time in service to others from our “busy” schedule?

We forget that they were “gifts given” to us, and that they never belonged to us in the first place. They were the firstborn, the first 10%! I know I appreciate being able to keep the other 90%!

Soli Deo Gloria!