‘Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.’ 1 Samuel 15:22
Suggested Further Reading: James 4:11–17
If you are failing to keep the least of one of Christ’s commands to his disciples, I pray you, brethren, be disobedient no longer. I know, for instance, that some of you can see it to be your duty, as believers, to be baptized. If you did not think it to be your duty, I would not bring this text to bear upon you; but if you feel it to be right, and you do it not, let me say to you that all the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master, and all the other actions which you may perform, are as nothing compared with the neglect of this. ‘To obey,’ even in the slightest and smallest thing, ‘is better than sacrifice,’ and to hearken diligently to the Lord’s commands is better than the fat of rams. It may be that some of you, though you are professed Christians, are living in the prosecution of some evil trade, and your conscience has often said, ‘Get out of it.’ You are not in the position that a Christian ought to be in; but then you hope that you will be able to make a little money, and you will retire and do a world of good with it. God cares nothing for this rams’ fat of yours; he asks not for these sacrifices which you intend to make. ‘To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.’ Perhaps you are in connection with a Christian church in which you may see much that is wrong, and you know that you ought not to tolerate it, but still you do so. You say, ‘I have a position of usefulness, and if I come out I shall not be so useful as I am now.’ My brother, your usefulness is but as the fat of rams, and ‘to obey is better than’ it all.
For meditation: To argue that the end justifies the means is to claim to know better than God. Saul knew God’s will (1 Samuel 15:3), failed to do it (1 Samuel 15:11), claimed to have done so (1 Samuel 15:13,20) and paraded the best of motives (1 Samuel 15:15,21). Ignorance of God’s will and failure to do it is a lesser evil than knowledge of God’s will and failure to do it (Luke 12:47–48).
Sermon no. 686
6 June (Undated Sermon)