Today’s Bible reading* has a brief sentence that echoes something we saw a few weeks ago: Obedience is better than sacrifice.
Doing what is righteous and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
Proverbs 21:3 (CSB)
Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice, to pay attention is better than the fat of rams.
1 Samuel 15:22 (CSB)
I’ve mentioned before that many people tend to believe in a transactional religion. I’m sure you’ve heard someone try to make a deal with God: “O, God if you will only do _____, then I promise that I will do _____ for the rest of my life.”
Transactional religion is a belief that if I do something, then God is obligated to do something in return. It’s a quid pro quo with God. A tit-for-tat.
It sounds very sincere. It may even be sincere. The only problem is that God doesn’t make deals like that! You won’t find a single instance anywhere in the Bible where God makes such a deal.
Instead of making a deal, God simply says that obedience is better than sacrifice. Doing what you’re supposed to is better than trying to make deals. Obedience is better than trying to manipulate God.
God will not be mocked. And God will not be manipulated, regardless of how much we may want … or try to manipulate Him.
God is sovereign. He’s in control. He calls the shots. Our place is to do what we’re told. Yes, we can have a relationship with God. God wants us to have a relationship with His kids. But He will not be manipulated.
I remember the first time I heard about Keith Green’s song, “To Obey is Better than Sacrifice”. I was at a Christian book store with a friend soon after I began a concerted effort at growing in my faith. She bought Green’s “No Compromise” album for me. The album’s cover art** features a devout Believer refusing to bow to a godless king.
When I got back to my dorm room that night and placed the vinyl on my turntable, I was awestruck as I listened to the song. I can’t remember trying to make any deals with God after that night.
I included a video below of Keith Green performing the song live. If you received this devotional by subscribing to my email list, you’ll probably see an error below. But you can watch the video by clicking this link.
** The album cover art for Keith Green’s “No Compromise” is above. You can click the link in the caption and order a copy of the album on their website.
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: