We all know what it means to just flat out disobey the directives of God. I hope by now you have all reads the book of Jonah.
“Get up and go to the great city of Nineveh. Announce my judgment against it because I have seen how wicked its people are.” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. He went down to the port of Joppa, where he found a ship leaving for Tarshish. He bought a ticket and went on board, hoping to escape from the LORD by sailing to Tarshish. Jonah 1:2-3 (NLT)
Of course, God let Jonah have a brief stay in the Big Fish Hotel for a couple of days to rethink his decision. We’ve all done that, haven’t we? We have all heard what we believe to be God telling us something to do, and yet we didn’t do it.
I love the story my friend Paul told me about being in a line at a bank behind a lady carrying a baby. He said that he heard the small voice of God telling him to say to the lady that her baby was going to be alright. He didn’t do it and felt horrible after the window of opportunity had passed. Then God said that it was OK. He was going to use another servant to get that message to her. But Paul had missed out on a blessing.
Has that ever happened to you? Have you felt like you should call someone, or pick up a stranded motorist, or speak a much needed encouragement to another person…and didn’t do it? Then you feel horrible because you know that you disobeyed? I have, many times.
Another friend of mine Scotty the body was at a gas station when a poor motorist asked him for money for gas. He said “Sorry, all I have is a credit card”. WHAT??? He knew that it was lame and felt bad the next day as he relived the story for me. There is a definite blessing in being obedient to God.
SO WHAT COULD BE MORE EVIL THAN JUST SAYING “NO” TO GOD?
In the amazing book “My Utmost for His Highest”, Oswald Chambers says that the counterfeit of obedience is self sacrifice. What’s worse than being rebellious is disobeying by doing other good works. It is because we deceive ourselves into thinking that we were being obedient servants. Ponder that for a second. “Sorry God. I would speak to that lady but I’m busy reading your word”. “Sorry God. I can’t give to that poor motorist because I have to tithe”. Get the picture?
The greatest example of this in the Bible is King Saul in 1 Samuel 15. It is an amazing story. Here is the directive from God by way of Samuel the prophet:
“Samuel also said to Saul, “The LORD sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the LORD…Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’” 1 Samuel 15:1-3
And Saul went and did what the Lord commanded him to do. Well almost….
“But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, the fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good, and were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” 1 Samuel 15:9
Samuel asked Saul if he obeyed and his response was that HE DID. Samuel asked him about the sound of all the livestock that he heard. And here is the conversation that they had:
“Why haven’t you obeyed the LORD? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the LORD’s sight?” “But I did obey the LORD,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal.” 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. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.” 1 Samuel 15:19-23
What is wrong with giving all the good stuff to God? What is wrong with offering sacrifices that please God? NOTHING! Unless doing so is disobedience by self sacrifice. And God is very serious about obedience in his servants.
There have been times when I didn’t do something I knew God wanted me to do because I was too busy “discipling” someone, or ushering at church, or leading a men’s accountability group. All of those are good works for God. But Samuel said it best: obedience is better than sacrifice.
Are you being totally and completely obedient to what God wants you to do? Or has the counterfeit of obedience, self sacrifice crept in? Ask God. He will tell you.
WHEN IS DISOBEDIENCE NOT REALLY DISOBEDIENCE?