This week I heard someone say God wants what is best for you. And you could answer the question, what is God’s best for you, how would you answer that?
In that answer, how much of that is based on what you want? And let’s take that a step further, and consider how much of that is based on the culture we live in? What is our culture telling us is best? And what does our culture teach us about what is God’s best?
“The troops took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of the things devoted to destruction, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” But Samuel declared: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, obedience is better than sacrifice, and attentiveness is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance is like the wickedness of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king.” 1 Samuel 15: 21-23
I have to wonder that if in the Old Testament days, people brought their “best” sacrifice based on how they would look to others because they wanted to be seen as upholding religious law, instead of desiring to be obedient to His word. I guess things don’t change much.
I mean, what does your best look like? The American dream? Doing what makes you happy? Climbing the corporate ladder? Having a 4 bedroom house with a white picket fence, a wife, 2 kids, a cat, and a dog? The most likes on social media? Dating the star of the football team? Making sure that you look as “clean” as possible? And wanting to be so confident that when anyone asks you how you are, you always enthusiastically say “great!”?
Is the word of the Lord in what your “best” life looks like? Is being obedient part of what His best would be for your life? Or would the Lord reject what is being offered before Him? Micah digs a little deeper into this, and offers us 3 things that are good in His eyes.
Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly with your God.
What can we bring to the LORD? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6: 6-8
In reflecting on this passage, I have to notice that so much of the first two verses are “me” focused. What can I bring… should I offer… should I sacrifice… and everything that is being offered, sounds pretty good. But see, it was never our offerings that saved us from our sins. It was the sacrifice of His only son that did that. It was Him laying down His life in obedience.
It was never about what we can do, what we can offer. Because even our best, wouldn’t be enough. No, it was God who told us what is good, what is required of us. and that is these 3 things:
To act justly.
Walk humbly with your God.
And I want to sum all of this up in one word. Obedience.
To the world it looked like we were fools.
We were faced with wondering what was God’s best for us last year, when Mike was transferred to a store closer to home. Who wouldn’t want to work closer to home? But it wouldn’t have been a good situation. Many people close to us wanted my husband closer to home, but we didn’t believe it would be the best for our family, His best for us. One of the many reasons was that we would have had to pull our son from the school he was thriving in, in the middle of the school year.
But God intervened, and Mike was put in a store that could have been career suicide. He was always put in the stores that needed to be fixed up, but this store needed much more than to be fixed up. It needed a resurrection. Not only that, it was in the worst area of town, with armed robberies, gun shots in the parking lot, and belligerent customers. About 6 months after being transferred to the store he was told that he may want to consider stepping down, because although he was making progress, the store wasn’t turning around as quickly as upper management wanted.
Was this really God’s best for us?
We were criticized again for that decision, “well it doesn’t seem so great here”. And sometimes God’s best doesn’t look that great, because we live in a culture that is focused on numbers, instant gratification, and wanting what is easy, and on top of that the American dream is about the pursuit of happiness, and not obedience to Christ.
And in a way that was what we were faced with. Do what would secure his job? Or trust that He had a plan, and that this was really His best for us, as we had at first believed?
Luckily there was a bit of time, and he was given a new manager that ended up being another committed Christian to help lead the staff, and very quickly the store started to turn around. And this week Mike was presented with a purpose driven leadership recognition card for his work teaching a class that he has been teaching for about 4 years.
What is God’s best for you?
So how do we achieve God’s best for us?
By following Jesus, and letting Him be the model of a life lived in obedience to the Father. Obedience to where He leads usually won’t make sense to the world as we know it though. But that is His best for us.
It is true that obedience is better than sacrifice. Sacrifice should never be done to make us right with God. Instead sacrifice should be an act of obedience because of the love we have for the Father.
If you think about it, after He laid His life down on the cross, things didn’t really look so great for the disciples. However, it wasn’t long before He rose again from the grave.