Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "O Zion Haste"1 (Lyrics)
1 Samuel 15:13-14,19a,22-23a – Samuel went to Saul, and Saul said to him, "Blessed are you of the Lord! I performed the commandment of the Lord." But Samuel said, "What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord?" So Samuel said: "Has the Lord as great 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 witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. (NKJV)
Luke 10:17-18a,20 – Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." (NKJV)
As I was doing my daily Bible reading in 1 Samuel 15, I came to the part where Saul is confronted by Samuel because, instead of destroying the Amalekites as the Lord commanded, he didn't finish the job. He got "creative" by sparing King Agag and keeping some of the best of the flocks, herds, and loot. When Samuel told him that he had disobeyed God, he protested, "But I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. But the people took of the plunder … to sacrifice to the Lord your God." (1 Samuel 15:20a,21 NKJV)
I saw something in that which I had not noticed before. How have I obeyed the Lord … sort of? Mostly, except … . Then, I read the passage in Luke 10 about the seventy whom Jesus sent out, returning excited about all the wonderful things that had happened, but Jesus corrected them: "Rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven." A light went on in my soul! How often have I sinned against God, as Samuel pointed out to Saul and as Jesus pointed out to His disciples: we pat ourselves on the back for service to God in the things that we have done or half-done, instead of, in full obedience, with falling-on-our-knees humility before God, glorifying Him for what He has done! I was humbled by the example that Jesus gave:
Luke 17:7-10 – And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, "Come at once and sit down to eat"? But will he not rather say to him, "Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink"? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, "We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do." (NKJV)
If we mix a cake, prepare the oven, and cook it for only half the time, taking it out because we want to go and do something else, it is "half-baked" and not good for anything. So, too, in our service to God, if we do not fully obey Him, and instead, "get creative" and add our own ideas, or go and do our own thing, or think in our hearts, "Look what success I have had" and not give all the glory to God, then our service is also "half-baked" and worthless.
Prayer: Lord, forgive us for half-baked service, for being satisfied or proud of giving half-service to You, and for accepting the praise and glory for ourselves. Teach us to have humble, obedient hearts, and contrite spirits, that we may serve You fully. Amen.