Friday, January 14, 2011

Obedience Vs. Sacrifice

Genesis 22:2  “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.

Can you imagine how Abraham must have felt? How many alternatives must have flashed before his eyes? This was his promised son that he waited so many years for.  It's natural to struggle with this story and I can safely say, very few of us (if any) will ever be asked to do what Abraham was asked to do.  But let's bring it into leadership context... What about when our leader asks us to do something we don't agree with, or when we think we can come up with a better idea?  This is when sacrifice can begin to look more appealing than obedience.  What do I mean by sacrifice?  It's not uncommon for us to feel challenged when we're expected to comply (especially when we don't understand the reasons).  The temptation of doing something we feel is more valuable, more convenient, or will give us more credit can become very strong.  We justify our lack of obedience by sacrificing something that suites us better.  At this point, we've put our interests above our leader's.

Abraham could have come up with a dozen alternatives.  He could have asked Sarah her opinion on the situation and I assure you, this would have only made things more difficult.  Abraham could have reasoned his way out of this difficult ask but he chose to honor God by obeying.   The story goes on...

16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendantst beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
"All because you have obeyed"...God elevates Abraham, because he obeyed.  Remember this story the next time you feel challenged or want to justify going a different direction than you've been asked.  God is looking for people who would honor those he's put in authority over us.  I'll leave you with one last verse...
I Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied,  “What is more pleasing to the Lord:  your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?  Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.

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