By Zoë Elmore
“’I am grieved that I have made Saul king, because he has turned away from me and has not carried out my instructions.’ Samuel was troubled, and he cried out to the Lord all that night.” I Samuel (NIV)
My husband has many stories about his childhood and playing with friends that lived across the street. They played ball almost every afternoon and would spend hours in the woods building forts, pretending to be GI Joe or swinging from tree branches like Tarzan. Tom grew up on lots of land, and he could play just about anywhere he liked with the exception of one simple rule: always ask permission before crossing the street. One afternoon when Tom spotted his best friends playing ball, he decided to “ask permission” of the side porch (inanimate objects always seem to give us the answer we’re looking for), instead of taking the time to ask his mom’s permission. When the porch “granted permission,” Tom crossed the street to enjoy an afternoon of fun with his friends.
When his mother looked out the picture window and saw Tom playing ball on the other side of the street, you can image the disappointment and discipline that followed. When asked why he had disobeyed her, his rationalization was that he did in fact ask permission before crossing the street. Her rule never mentioned anything about her being the only one who could grant permission.
Even though Tom had asked permission from an inanimate object, I doubt many of us would agree that Tom obeyed his mother’s rule. This story is a reminder how easy it is to become entangled in the downward spiral of disobedience. It all begins with making excuses for our behavior. Then we usually blame others and finally we resort to self justification to explain away our sin.
Look at this story of Saul as he spared an enemy king and kept the finest riches in the kingdom in disobedience to God’s command. The Lord had commanded Saul to destroy everyone and everything, but Saul allowed selfishness and rationalization to draw him into the downward spiral of disobedience.
Initially, Saul argued that he had followed the Lord’s command, with the exception of sparing the rival king. He then lied when he stated everything had been wiped out (I Samuel , 15). When Saul was rebuked by the prophet Samuel for his disobedience, he continued in his downward spiral by blaming the people. Finally, in an attempt to justify his plan to offer the riches as a sacrifice his continual disobedience caused the Lord to withdraw His blessing from Saul’s reign.
It’s tempting to think our arguments and rationalizations are convincing to the Lord, but God isn’t fooled. Delayed obedience or partial obedience is not obedience at all. It is disobedience, and we are wise to remember that there are always consequences for our disobedience. If you have become entangled in the downward spiral of disobedience I encourage you to confess your sin. Receive the Lord’s forgiveness, and change your behavior. You will begin to experience the blessings of obedience.
Dear Lord, I confess my disobedience to You. Thank You for the forgiveness You offer. I ask You to help me become a woman of obedience in thought, word and deed. I’m ready to experience the blessings obedience brings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
In your prayer time, ask the Lord to reveal the areas of your life where you practice delayed or partial obedience. Make a decision to obey the Lord without excuses, arguments or rationalization.
What are the areas in my life where disobedience has a stronghold?
How would my life change if I practiced obedience?
Memorize the verses regarding the blessing of obedience.
Proverbs 21:3, “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” (NIV)
Deuteronomy 6:3, “Hear, O Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, promised you.” (NIV)
Deuteronomy 28:1, “If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.” (NIV)
Psalm 119:1-2; 4-5, “Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the Lord. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart. You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!” (NIV)
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Wednesday, 18 July 2007.