The Only Thing Harder Than Following God 3


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I have a son who loves to do anything but go to bed when it’s time to go to bed.

On his way, he’ll find a piece of trash that needs to go in the garbage. Or he’ll pick up a toy and put it away. He does this every night even though I tell him explicitly to go to bed. The activities he does aren’t intrinsically bad—picking up after yourself is a good thing—but the context makes them wrong. Essentially he’s doing the right thing the wrong way.

King Saul had this same problem.

His troops were scattered and afraid. The Philistine threat at Mikmash melted the hearts of the Hebrews, and engagement was imminent. Saul had already waited seven dreadful days—that’s how long Samuel said to wait. But still the priest hadn’t arrived, and his men grew more fearful by the hour.

The king couldn’t wait any longer.

Someone had to petition the LORD on Israel’s behalf lest her be slaughtered by the barbaric Philistines. “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings,” Saul said (1 Sam. 13:9). Then Saul broke God’s law; he offered the sacrifice to the LORD.

But what’s so wrong about sacrificing to God?

Nothing in itself. But the sacrifice wasn’t in accordance with God’s word. Through His prophet, God told Saul to wait for Samuel. But waiting had become too uncomfortable.

 

Why Following God Can Be Uncomfortable

These two examples essentially are the same thing.

An authority commands action (go to bed, wait for Samuel), but that action is uncomfortable. So the recipient of the command does something else instead. Something that is good, but not according to instruction. He does what is right in his own eyes instead.

And we all do this, don’t we? We get impatient, or afraid so we do things that aren’t necessarily bad, but aren’t in line with God’s will.

What we discover is that no amount of “good” deeds can trump obedience. As Samuel says to Saul a couple chapters later:

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. 1 Samuel 15:22

Following God is hard. It’s uncomfortable. As a Christian you’re called to rejection, to poverty, to persecution. You’ll be afraid like Saul was, and feel pain at other times. But as hard as that is, not following God is even harder. Look at what God said to a different Saul on the road to Damascus:

It is hard for you to kick against the goads. Acts 26:14b

Do you know what a goad is? I had to look it up. A goad is a sharp stick used to drive cattle. When the animal gets too uncomfortable with the prodding, sometimes he kicks back. Of course, kicking a prick only makes matters worse.

God’s word whether delivered audibly, through others, or through the Bible is a goad, prodding you in the right direction. It’s uncomfortable, sure, but kicking against it only makes matters worse.

Andrew Gilmore writes every other Tuesday on his website, andrewgilmore.net.

 

 Image Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roome/2236195419

Andrew Gilmore - Guest Writer

About Andrew Gilmore - Guest Writer

Bible enthusiast, husband and father of four. I wrote a book that helps Christians understand how the Sabbath applies to their lives called "Do No Work." My goal is to help you live a more excellent life for God's glory.


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3 thoughts on “The Only Thing Harder Than Following God

  • Tim

    There are some good points in this article but there are too many verses that speak about the blessings of God, about how God will meet all our needs, about how we will be able to give to every good work to say a Christian is called to poverty. We are blessed to be a blessing the Bible says. Blessed going in and blessed going out according to scripture. Of course there are other kinds of blessings too but to be blessed in a way that not only are your needs met but you can give to others as well is not poverty.

  • Andrew Gilmore - Guest Writer
    Andrew Gilmore - Guest Writer Post author

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Tim! I should clarify, and say that I don’t think all Christians are called to poverty. Abraham (although not a Christian, but a child of God nonetheless) was one of the richest dudes around. Same with Isaac, Solomon. All of these had God’s blessings on their lives. But regardless of the amount of money one has, acting in obedience to God is always difficult at some point. For me, one of the toughest passages in all of scripture is when Jesus said to His disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Matt. 16:24).

  • Charles Crutcher

    Good points, Tim.

    Andrew, I enjoyed reading your post. Christ ask us to pick up our cross and die, as Bonhoeffer says. There is a lot of truth in that. I think it means something different for each of us. For the rich young ruler, it was all of his possessions, for some of us it is our work, or our hobbies. The list can be many things or one. It’s the pride in us that makes it uncomfortable. Whatever we put up in the altar of our heart is exactly what God will ask from us as a sacrifice.

    But man, when we finally come to the end of our own desires and only want Jesus, that is when we find freedom to live fully alive, with love, courageously pursuing the paths God asks us to travel. We truly have to lose our lives in order to find it. And when we do, it is better than we could ever imagine.