“And Samuel said, “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.” 1 Samuel 15:22
The practice of worship can be a dangerous thing. I think there is a pervasive mentality that as long as we have good intentions in worshipping God, it doesn’t really matter if how we worship lines up with his commandments. This is the, “It’s the thought that counts,” view of worshipping and serving God. Saul and the people of Israel had this. Although God commanded them to completely destroy the Amalekites, they thought it would be nice to instead take the best of their crops and flocks and sacrifice them to the Lord. When Samuel heard about this, he went and told Saul the kingdom is being taken away from him. In that dialogue, one of the most significant statements about worship in the whole Bible is made. God doesn’t care about the sacrifice, the rituals, the offerings, the liturgy, or any of the religious acts of worship if obedience is compromised to accomplish it. Some examples: there is a glaring need of the poor in our immediate community and instead we use the resources God gave us to expand or enhance our already incredible facility. God commands us to take care of the poor, not have perfect clarity in our sound system. A cross or crucifix is set up in a worship service and instead of using it as an artistic image to point to a spiritual worship of God, we bow down before it and worship the object in front of us. God commands us not to make or worship images of himself. Worship music, sermons, books, or any other creative act of worship are made for the sake of business profit over the sake of growing the kingdom and expanding the glorification of God. God commands us to have no other gods before Him, including the greedy god of capitalism. The list can go on and on. All of these things are done with good intentions thinking that God wants whatever worship we give him as long as we mean well. But this is simply not true. Worshipping God, at its core, is being obedient to what he commands and submissive to his lordship. Worship without thought to obedience is dangerous, and we ought be more careful.
Lord Jesus, we repent of the way that we place the mode of our offerings before our obedience. Give us a passion for righteousness that guides us to right worship!