Friday, December 28, 2007

Punished for Cleaning up?

I had an interesting conversation with Kadin the other night. It went something like this:

ME: Do you know why you're in trouble?

KADIN: But Dad, I was just trying to clean up all my toys in the living room so you and Mom wouldn't have to trip on them.

ME: Was that what you were supposed to be doing?

KADIN: But I thought you always wanted me to clean my stuff up.

ME: Unless we already told you to get in bed.

KADIN: But I thought it would make you happy...

ME: I love it when you clean up stuff without us asking, it makes me very happy, but I'm even more happy when you do what you're told.

In 1 Samuel there is a story of King Saul. In chapter 13 he was given clear instructions that he was to wait for Samuel for seven days, and that when Samuel arrived he would offer the sacrifice and God's blessing would be upon the people. Towards the end of the seventh day the people started to get restless, and Saul decided that he would offer the sacrifice to God. Here is the conversation that resulted from this decision:

11 "What have you done?" asked Samuel.
Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, 12 I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering."

13 "You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command."

To paraphrase, King Saul said, "But I thought it would make God happy..."

I think an even more telling story is in chapter 15, when Saul is told by the prophet to kill everything in a particular area, and yet he decided to save the best stuff to offer a sacrifice to God. That's when God reveals to him the same thing I was trying to get across to Kadin, namely that doing what He says is more important than doing what we think He wants. Here is the way God put it in the bible:

22 But Samuel replied:
"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination,
and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
he has rejected you as king."

God was trying to stamp out the same attitude that caused the Pharisees in Jesus time, and causes a religious spirit today. This is the attitude that made the Pharisees balk when Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, or when He chose not to have His disciples fast on certain days like everyone else did. We need to learn to do what God is saying now, not what we think He wants.

With Kadin, his heart wasn't to clean the living room, it was to try and stay up a few minutes longer. I think with King Saul, he wanted to please the people more than he wanted to please God. God is good at exposing the attitudes of our hearts, and He wants a people who a fully devoted to Him, not using Him for our benefit. Ouch.

Learning to walk with Him daily,


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