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.
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