Incomplete Obedience is Not Obedience

by Sandy Kirby Quandt

During a recent study of King Saul’s incomplete obedience to God’s word found in 1 Samuel 15, once again I was reminded there is no right way to do the wrong thing. To obey is better than sacrifice.

No matter how much we rationalize or kid ourselves, incomplete obedience is not obedience. As my minister said during a sermon on this topic last year, “If we refuse to listen to and obey God, we choose to stand outside of God’s blessing and purpose for our lives.”

When we do not fully carry out God’s directions, we make the choice to stand outside God’s blessing and purpose for our lives.

That’s what King Saul did.

When Saul fought the Amalekites, he choose to do things his way; not God’s way. God told Saul to completely destroy the Amalekites and their property.

However, Saul believed he knew better than God, and spared the Amalekite king, Agag, plus the best of the livestock, and everything else that appealed to Saul and his men.

When the prophet Samuel confronted Saul with his sin, Saul tried to justify his disobedience by saying he kept the best animals for a sacrifice to God. Doubtful.

Saul was a great military leader. This could have been his greatest victory with many more to follow. If only he obeyed God completely. God gave Saul and his men victory over the Amalekites. God expected complete obedience. King Saul obeyed partially, and falsely believed God would be okay with that.

Because Saul disobeyed, he removed himself from God’s best for his life.

As a result of Saul’s disobedience God removed Saul’s crown and the kingdom of Israel from him.

God wants our obedience given out of grateful hearts for all he has done, will do, and is doing in our lives. Through obeying God we show God we trust he knows what’s best for us. We show we believe God is a loving, kind, and good father.

When we disobey, even partially, it’s still disobedience. Disobedience says we think we know better than the God who spoke the world into being, and knit us together in our mother’s wombs.

It’s easy to justify and rationalize our disobedience, isn’t it?

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But Samuel answered, “What pleases the Lord more: burnt offerings and sacrifices or obedience? It is better to obey God than to offer a sacrifice. It is better to listen to God than to offer the fat of male sheep. 1 Samuel 15:22 (ICB)

I wish you well.


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