Rule Follower or Breaker?

While at some friends’ house awhile back, we were chatting while they loaded the dishwasher. I watched in surprise as they loaded the lids to this set of prep bowls into the rack. Do you know that the “rules” say the lids aren’t dishwasher safe? So I always hand wash mine. Because that’s what “they” say. Does this mean I’m an OCD Rule Follower? Not so much. OCD at times. Rule follower at times. But only at times.

What about you? Do you adamantly adhere to the rules that present themselves in life? Or are you like me, arbitrarily deciding when the rules may or may not apply?

God asks us to obey. Not out of obligation, but as a natural heart response of love towards Him. He’s more concerned with obedience than offerings or sacrifice.
I Samuel 15:22 “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.”

What about the areas where you do obey? Do you obey completely and wholly? Do you ever suffer from partial obedience syndrome? That isn’t what the Lord asks of us. If we take a look at the life of Saul in 1 Samuel, we’ll see what God has to say about partial obedience.

Saul started out well. While the people of Israel had rejected God in asking for a king to rule over them, the Lord still chose a godly man to be their king – Saul. In 1 Samuel 11:13 we see that Saul had a heart for the Lord. He recognized that “the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel.” In verse 15, after he’s made king, it says, “There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.

However, it didn’t take long for Saul to decide which rules would apply to him and which would not. In 1 Samuel chapter 13, Saul had followed the word of Samuel, but when things didn’t happen the way Saul had anticipated, he took matters into his own hands. His people were all leaving, so he decided to offer the burnt offering. The problem is that he wasn’t authorized by God to do so. He wasn’t a priest. It wasn’t his job.

In verse 10, it says, “Now it happened, as soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him.” Interesting that Samuel showed up just as soon as he had taken matters into his own hands. Samuel addresses this sin and Saul promptly comes up with an excuse. “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said, ‘The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.’ Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.

Because of this decision to defy God’s laws, Saul lost the kingdom. This choice affected his career, his family, and ultimately his relationship with the Lord. In 1 Samuel 13:14, Samuel tells Saul, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.

I believe that the Lord gave Saul opportunity to repent and turn back to God, following after Him. In chapter 15 of 1 Samuel, the Lord sends Saul to attack the Amalekites and utterly destroy them – all the people, as well as the livestock. But now Saul’s choices are determined by his own will. The sad thing about disobedience is that once we head down that path, our ability to discern God’s direction versus our own becomes diminished. Saul doesn’t utterly destroy the Amalekites, he takes their king, Agag, alive. Not only that, he and the people kept the best of the sheep, the oxen, and fatlings, the lambs, and all that was good. They “were unwilling to utterly destroy them. But everything despised and worthless, that they utterly destroyed.” It was all about human perspective. The rules only went so far. This stuff looked good. Surely the Lord would want good for them, right? Wrong.

From verse 10 through 23, we read how the Lord spoke to Samuel, informing him of what Saul had done – and not done. Samuel is grieved, and “he cried out to the Lord all night.” The next day, Samuel goes to Saul and Saul immediately tries to placate him. He claims to have “performed the commandment of the Lord.” Our sin, however, doesn’t always like to stand quietly by. In Saul’s case, Samuel heard the bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen.

Instead of coming clean and repenting, Saul again tries to justify his actions. Now he claims that he saved the good things to offer to the Lord. But Samuel knows this is a lie. Saul, for the third time, attempts to explain himself and justify his sin. This time he claims that he did do what God said, “but the people took of the plunder, sheep, and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.

God gave Saul numerous “Get out of jail free” cards. He offered Saul the opportunity to come clean, confess, and repent. Yet each time, Saul dug himself further and further into the hole of his own sin.

Then 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. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He also has rejected you from being king.’”

We serve a holy, just, and mighty God. He is perfect and can have no fellowship with darkness and sin. He doesn’t abhor sin arbitrarily. He doesn’t impose rules and commandments to make our lives miserable. He does so because He loves us so much. He’s done so much for us already. How could we want anything less than to be wholly submitted to His perfect and glorious will? Why would we choose to filter the rules as we see fit? He calls us to obey. While there can be very uncomfortable, even life-altering, consequences for disobedience, there are also glorious and wonderful results for obedience. Best of all? Knowing that you’re living a life that pleases the heart of God.

As is His custom, when God is speaking to me about a topic, I usually find it in multiple places. I wrote this back in July, and came across this post at My Quiet Corner. It seems that Donetta wrote on the same topic. I love it when God does that.


Anonymous said...

Really good stuff Dianne. I enjoyed reading your post this morning...it hit home. Isn't it nice to know that when God's word goes forth, it does not return void?

Miss ya tons!

A Gilmore Girls Fan said...

I have always put my lids in the dishwasher on the top rack. I never knew not to. They always come out just fine.

Shelby-Grace said...

Yea, I put my lids in the dishwasher. But I'm usually a pretty much follow the rules kinda girl!

I really enjoyed your post. It is about our obedience to God and not His obedience to our desires and requests...to give Him glory in every situation.

Donnetta said...

Thanks for the link!

Ah yes. Obedience and following HIS rules regardless of what I think. And even knowing there is great blessing in obedience!!

Great challenge and reminder all in one!

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