Wisdom Wednesday: When It’s Never Enough

"Lo, hearkening than sacrifice is better; to give attention than fat of rams."  —1 Samuel 15:22b YLT

“Lo, hearkening than sacrifice is better; to give attention than fat of rams.” —1 Samuel 15:22b YLT

Have you ever felt like you could never do enough to please someone? Have you ever heard someone say, “I don’t know what to do to make you happy”? Although some people can be unreasonably demanding and nothing anyone does will ever make them happy, sometimes it’s a matter of us doing what we like to do, think is better, or what’s convenient for us rather than what is asked or needed. Then we wonder why the things we do never seem to be enough.

“The sacrifice of an ox will not bring us all we want.” —Latin proverb

“Personal affections must be sacrificed for the greater cause.” —Chinese proverb

“Whether you understand the motivations of your heart or not, really what’s driving your actions, and what’s driving your life and how you fill your day, actually comes back to what you believe is actually gonna bring about the most fullness of life possible for you.” —Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Fig Leaves, Lies and the Grace of God

Decades ago I wrote a short skit for our youth group to teach the principle of obedience over sacrifice. It was inspired by the account of when King Saul was given specific instructions but only partially carried them out. Then Samuel, God’s spokesperson arrived on the scene:

And Samuel said, Hath 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 hearken than the fat of rams. —1 Samuel 15:22

In order to make the account applicable and more personal, the skit portrayed a mother instructing her teenage daughter to do her homework. The daughter went to her room, and after some time, she presented her mother with a painting as a gift.

IMG_1973 Sophia.art_smw

The mother was blessed, until she realized her daughter had not done any of her homework, where upon she became sad and disappointed.  She expressed appreciation for the gift, reassured her daughter of her love, and explained why obeying is a greater expression of love and respect.

Have you ever wondered why you seem to be losing respect and closeness in relationships?  In King Saul’s case, his disobedience by doing things his own way and his rebellious heart caused him to lose God’s blessing and eventually his kingdom and even his life.  Although in our relationships, it may not be a matter of obedience or disobedience, it could be that we are not hearkening, that we are not truly listening and doing what others ask, need or desire.

“Being heard is so close to being loved that, for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.”  —David Augsburger

“My wife says I never listen to her.  At least I think that’s what she said.”  —Unknown

About Rene Yoshi

Just a transplanted Okinawan-French Southern girl with a wee bit o' Irish, sharing photography and what I'm learning about spiritual things, including putting off legalism and religious traditions, and embracing God's matchless love, tender mercy, and amazing grace! View all posts by Rene Yoshi

12 responses to “Wisdom Wednesday: When It’s Never Enough

  • Heidi Viars

    what a good reminder for me today, Rene! to listen and to heed rather than to just run and do the thing … Thanks for always pointing us to the Word and His wisdom!

  • g.

    This is a great one, Sweets. I know that it is very easy to even fool ourselves into thinking that what we do is for the purpose of fulfilling another’s needs or desires, when it is really to fulfill our own. Thank you for this bit of wisdom, and for the reminder of how we are to respond to others, and to God.

  • Randell Bell

    Communication is probably the most important skill in a person’s life. We spend years learning how to read, write, and learning how to speak, but lack the skill of listening. What people need today as much as the other communication skills such as reading, writing and speaking is training that enables us to listen so we really, deeply understand one another. As part of my own self-improvement in business and personal relationships I took the Steven Covey Course The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and while I use all of them in their proper situation the one that I use daily and most often is habit number 5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
    When we seek to be understood first we want to get our point across and in doing so, we may ignore the other person completely, pretend that we’re listening, or selectively hear only certain parts of the conversation and focus on only the words being said, but miss the meaning entirely.
    This also applies to actions as well as words and as we all know actions sometimes speak louder than words. Good one Rene. 🙂

    • Rene Yoshi

      Habit number 5 is a good point. It reminds me of a book a friend recommended years and years ago by Dale Carnegie called How to Win Friends and Influence People. The book and course you mentioned probably share a lot of the same points. I had my kids read it as part of their homeschooling, especially to help them overcome some shyness tendencies. The book said that people generally like to talk about themselves, they just need someone to listen. So one of the ways to engage people is to ask questions and show genuine interest. We can learn so much by doing that. Thank you, Randell! 😀

  • heavenlyraindrops

    Obedience to God seems to have become optional to many, yet right after this passage is vs 23- ‘For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry’ -Sobering. I love your skit Rene. Brings out the point of passage beautifully. Let us all demonstrate our love to God through obedience.

  • Unshakable Hope

    Great wisdom, Rene!
    Your post reminded me of a book that my wife and I read about five years ago. It was about a woman that had died on the operating table and went to heaven. It’s a long account, but it was revealed to her that the highest form of worship is obedience. I thought that was powerful.

    • Rene Yoshi

      It makes sense when you really think about it. If we ask someone to do something for us, and they do it cheerfully, or if we express something that’s done that drives us crazy, and they try to avoid doing it, then doesn’t that make us feel more loved and respected? It’s the little things, isn’t it? And isn’t that what people do when trying to win someone’s affection, like in dating? Thank you, Bill! 😀

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