Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice

Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

Obedience is Better Than Sacrifice

God gave Saul an assignment. He sent him on a mission to attack Amalek, put under the ban everything he has, and not to spare the city. He also asked him to kill men, women, children, infants, oxen, sheep, camels, and donkeys in the land (1 Sam. 15:3). Saul gathered his army and went on this mission. He besieged the Amalek. However, he did not follow the instructions and directions given by God. Instead, he chose to follow the desires of his own heart. He spared the life of Agag, the king of Amalek, and the best of fat sheep, oxen, and lambs. He carted away valuable materials and anything worthwhile and only destroyed worthless things (1 Sam. 15:9).

God frowned upon this act of disobedience by Saul and regretted having made him the King of Israel. He sent Samuel to rebuke him and remind him of the evil he had done. When Samuel confronted Saul and asked him why he disobeyed the Lord, Saul lied that he followed the instructions and did what God commanded. But when Samuel exposed Saul’s lies, he claimed that he took the spoils and kept them to offer sacrifice to God. But he knew he took them to satisfy his selfish and evil desires. Samuel reminded him that obedience to the commands of the Lord was better than sacrifice since the Lord does not take delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, but an open ear (Ps. 40:6). Sometimes, like Saul, we tend to put our selfish interests over and above obeying divine will and commands.

The Lord Delights in Obedience

Obedience signifies total surrender. In the context used by Samuel, it entails total surrender of one’s heart and will to the will of God, a total giving of self to God. In that context, it is more valuable than sacrifice of any sort. A commentator in Enduring Word said, “One could make a thousand sacrifices for God, work a thousand hours for God’s service, or give millions of dollars to His work. But all these sacrifices mean little if there is not a surrendered heart to God, shown by simple obedience.” Obedience also entails sacrifice, meaning every obedience has an atom of sacrifice. However, not all sacrifices are offered with the import of obedience, as Saul’s case suggests. As God’s children, we are called to have an open ear to the Lord and be obedient to His commands since that is what delights the Lord.

New Wine and Old Wineskin

Jesus Christ reminds us in His teaching that new wine should not be put in old wineskins; otherwise, the new wine will burst the skin, and everything will be ruined. Jesus Christ’s teaching is truly the new wine. He introduced a new way of following God that is bereft of legalism or legalistic observance of rituals different from what the Pharisees and Sadducees taught. He introduced something new and did not come to patch the old with the new. He said, “I give you a new law/commandment. Love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). Jesus Christ did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it, and He taught that the fulfillment of the law is to follow the law of love and abide by it.

Thus, Jesus Christ wants us to be like Him, who made obedience to the will of His Father his food (John 4:34). Let us renew and sanctify ourselves in Christ and be the new wineskin capable of receiving the new wine. St. Paul tells us, “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away, and the new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Always remember that Jesus loves you!

[Readings: 1 Sm 15:16-23; Mk 2:18-22]

Fr. Sylvanus Amaobi

Fr. Sylvanus Ifeanyi Amaobi is from Nkume in Imo State of Nigeria. He is the second Child of a family of seven, three males and four females to Mr. Sylvanus U. Amaobi and Late Mrs Veronica C. Amaobi. He is the Pastor of St. Cecilia Catholic Church, Claremore Oklahoma in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. Email address: [email protected]. Phone numbers: Office, 9183412343.

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