Originally published Saturday, 19 January 2013.
I will praise the name of God with song
And magnify Him with thanksgiving.
And it will please the Lord better than an ox
Or a young bull with horns and hoofs.
Psalm 69:30-31 NAS
January is a time of priority setting; and if you are like me, priority assessment is a constant process. Life has so many demands, so many ever urgent facets that if I’m not careful, I end up making big sacrifices on my time and energy that aren’t necessarily the best.
Most of us have a sense of duty and responsibility to those we love that leads us to make certain sacrifices. You might sacrifice your sleep to stay up with your teen who is burning the midnight oil to finish his homework. Maybe you have an aching back, but you rub your honey’s shoulders tonight. Perhaps you are low on cash, but a friend or relative has a nearly empty fridge and so you share out of what you have--despite the hardship.
In our spiritual lives we make sacrifices too. And we are wise to make sure we are sacrificing in a way that pleases the Lord. Let me give you a practical example. A mom is exhausted with juggling her job, teens, care-taking her mother who lives with them, and a husband who is in-and-out of walking with the Lord. She wants to be of service, to contribute and find a place of purpose, so she volunteers at church... in the nursery, in the kitchen, in Bible study and pretty soon this sweet sister is spread so thin you can see her bones when you hold her up to the light. Ever been there? I sure have! If I’m the one spreading myself too thin, I usually end up in a heap of tired tears or worse, short, testy and snarky with my man! A serving heart can oh-so-quickly run out of the gracious servant spirit she started with if she isn’t careful to guard her time and efforts through obedience.
I have often heard the saying, “You can’t out give God.” This is 100% true. But what if you give something He wasn’t asking for? I think we might feel like we’ve out-given when we give in areas or ways He wasn’t asking us to.
1 Samuel 15:22-23 echos the verse above:
Samuel said, "Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the Lord,
He has also rejected you from being king."
The verse from Psalms lets us into a little peek of God’s desire for us. He delights more in our praise, gratitude and worship than the sacrifices we put on the altar. Practically speaking, we can rather easily put a lot of things on the altar of sacrifice and service with really lousy attitudes. God is always after our hearts!
Samuel’s words to Saul reveal that the sacrifice wasn’t God’s desire--rather Saul’s heart of obedience was what God wanted.
As you consider you places of service and sacrifice, get alone with God and lean into His leading. Are you giving what He desires?
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