I Peter 3:15 “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. . .”
We have an inspiring network of communication these days as believers. We can encourage, share, pray, and discuss with others around the globe at any moment. We can also debate, discourage, condemn, and fail just as quickly. A recent debate that I’ve been following is complementarianism versus egalitarianism.
These are big words to describe conflicting views on the role of women in God’s plan. Complementarianism “is the position that the man and the woman in the church compliment each other with their different callings and giftings . . .But . . . a woman is not to be an elder or pastor because those positions are prohibited to women by scripture.” (I Tim 2:12-14; I Tim 5:17; Titus 1:5-7) The egalitarian position “teaches equality in every area of service within the church including being an elder and pastor.”
In I Samuel 15, Samuel gives Saul directions from God to go defeat Amalek and “utterly destroy all that he has, and do not spare him.” Saul went to fight and defeated Amalek but he spared Agag and the best of the sheep, the oxen, and all that was good. You know, it just made sense to save the best for God.
When Saul met Samuel he cried out, “‘Blessed are you of the Lord! I have carried out the command of the Lord.'” Samuel, who was not blind or deaf, asked Saul why he heard sheep and oxen. Saul in his willful blindness responded, we “brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God; but the rest we have utterly destroyed.'” Apparently, Saul did not quite grasp the definition of the word “utterly.” If God says to completely destroy the Amalekites, and you save even one little lamb, you can’t say you completely destroyed it. Even if you saved it for a good cause.
Samuel responds with one of the most beautiful and most convicting passages of Scripture: “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.”
I Chronicles 13 tells the story of David’s decision to bring the ark of God from Kiriath-jearim. “They carried the ark of God on a new cart from the house of Abinadab, and Uzza and Ahio drove the cart. David and all Israel were celebrating before God with all their might, even with songs and with lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals and with trumpets.” But, then the ox stumbled and Uzza put out his hand to steady the ark. Uzza died.
Some time later David decided to try again to bring the ark to the place prepared for it. Wisely, he said to the Levites, “Because you did not carry it at the first, the Lord our God made an outburst on us, for we did not seek Him according to the ordinance.” This time, they succeeded, because they obeyed God’s instructions.
It looked like Saul was doing a good thing, to bring back the best to sacrifice to the Lord in praise of His victory over Amalek. It looked like David and the people were doing a good thing by bringing the ark back to Israel.
But the bottom line is that they both were disobeying God’s plan. God told Saul to destroy everything. He didn’t. God had given Israel instructions to carry the ark on the shoulders of the Levites. They carried it on a cart.
And there were consequences for their disobedience.
How history would have changed if Abraham had not obeyed completely when God said “Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.” Abraham obeyed immediately and completely.
And the world was blessed.
There are times when God asks us to do difficult things. Sometimes, what He asks doesn’t make sense. Women can make good decisions, teach and preach, and govern well. But I don’t want to look like I’m doing a good thing. I want to be like Abraham and obey immediately. I want to obey Him utterly.
Therefore, I will find blessings in submission.
For it is better to obey.