Read: 1 Samuel 15:10-26
“Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22 NIV
A co-worker of mine had decided to do me a favor. Whether it was out of the goodness of her heart or not, I don’t really know. What I do know is that the task she took on was one which regularly belonged to me and, seeing no sign of its accomplishment when I sat down at my desk, I set about completing it just as I did every morning.
I was nearly finished when my coworker walked past my desk for the tenth time and, looking down at the now nearly finished stack of paperwork declared, “Oh, I already did that!”
There was nothing to do but laugh. I thanked her and jested that she owed me one for having allowed me to sit there and complete work which had already been accomplished. (To this day, I don’t know why she failed to tell me what she’d done.)
Much to my surprise, her expression changed to one of affront. “No I don’t! You owe me!” Despite the fact that her favor hadn’t actually been a favor, she had tried and now her position was being made clear: help or no help, I was in her debt.
King Saul once performed a similar “favor” for the prophet Samuel and, sadly, it didn’t turn out much better. Having been instructed to refrain from going into battle until Samuel had made the appropriate sacrifice, Saul had waited. And waited. And waited.
When Samuel didn’t come, he did the most rational thing he could think of: he offered the sacrifice himself, then proceeded to conquer the enemy.
Samuel’s response, however, was less than grateful. Saul had been so eager to do good that He had broken God’s law! God would rather have seen Saul go into battle without the sacrifice than disobey Him and make the offering!
Like my coworker and King Saul, we sometimes find ourselves tempted to do “favors” both for others and for God. Yet not all favors are helpful… or wise. As Christians, we must be careful not to get ahead of ourselves, but to prayerfully consider each action in light of God’s Word. Our Master is far more interested in seeing a task done properly than in seeing it accomplished quickly. And our interests ought to mirror His!
Challenge: The next time you find yourself seeking a short-cut or a way to speed up the work being accomplished, take a step back and pray. Only proceed once you’re certain that your “favor” really will honor God and be a help to others!