Sincerity or Obedience
Title: Sincerity or Obedience
Reading for March 26: 1 Samuel 15-16
"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 listen than the fat of rams.
For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry."
1 Samuel 15:22-23
Which is more important, sincerity or obedience?
Part of me wants to say obedience. After all, didn't Samuel say to king Saul, "To obey is better than sacrifice." (1 Samuel 15:22) But then I see people who obey God (that is they are baptized, go through the motions at church, etc.) and can tell they have no real, authentic relationship with God.
So another part of me wants to say sincerity. Jesus said to the Pharisees, "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." (Matthew 9:13)
But there is a connecting point. Samuel says God wants obedience, not sacrifice. Jesus says God wants sincerity, not sacrifice. It seems then that obedience and sincerity are interchangeable. True obedience is sincere. True sincerity expresses itself in obedience. You cannot have one without the other.
Sincerity is essential. God doesn't want mere obedience to outward commands. The heart must be in it. Jesus called the Pharisees "whitewashed tombs" which looked good on the outside but on the inside were full of "hypocrisy and lawlessness." (Matthew 23:27-28) It was all show, no substance.
However, obedience is just as essential. Rules are important. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." (John 14:15)
So which is more important, sincerity or obedience? That's the wrong question. Is our religion about us or God? That's the question.
God keep us from selfish pride, either through our self-righteous checklists or our showy emotionalism. Help us keep our eyes on you.