Day 8

Obedience over Sacrifice

from the Lent 2020: His Love Endures reading plan


Jeremiah 7:1-34, Jeremiah 8:1-22, Jeremiah 9:1-26, 1 Kings 8:41-43, Luke 19:41-44

BY Guest Writer

If I had a nickel for every time my two daughters had conflict. The offense could be teasing, hitting, not sharing, or a million other things. After talking privately with each of them, I would bring the girls back together, stand them face-to-face and instruct the offender to say, “I’m sorry. It was wrong for me to __.” Occasionally, I would even ask them to hold hands, which caused them to roll their eyes at this admittedly awkward parenting strategy.

My goal was not for them to robotically repeat words or to just go through the motions to avoid punishment. As they practiced the external act of reuniting and verbally confessing their sin, my hope was that an inner posture of repentance would grow and that reconciliation would follow. My methods seemed external, yet my goal was always to shape their hearts.

Throughout the Old Testament, we see how God established specific ways for His people to relate to Him and to others. The Ten Commandments set clear parameters for God’s people. First and foremost was the non-negotiable command to avoid all idolatry: to only worship the one true God (Exodus 20:3). In addition to the Ten Commandments, God gave many other instructions detailing how to conduct civil life, participate in temple worship, and offer sacrifices.

What was the point of all these commands? Was God’s goal to create robotic rule-followers? Definitely not! God’s methods may seem external, but He was always fighting for their hearts. God’s goal was reconciliation and intimacy with His people. This is true for us today as well.

“When I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt,
I did not speak with them or command them concerning burnt offering and sacrifice.
However, I did give them this command: ‘Obey me, and then I will be your God,
and you will be my people. Follow every way I command you
so that it may go well with you’” (Jeremiah 7:22–23).

The God of all creation was pursuing relationship with His people—not moralistic law keeping. But they stubbornly resisted and forfeited intimacy by chasing false gods from the nations around them. They went through the motions of worshipping God in the temple, but their hearts were distant from Him. They shamelessly broke the Ten Commandments, which were actually God’s gracious blueprint for how to remain faithful, free, and flourishing.

We hear Jeremiah’s anguish as he weeps and wails over this wayward nation (Jeremiah 9:10). Over six hundred years later, we hear a similar lament from Jesus who weeps as He grieves over Jerusalem. Jesus ached for those so bent on human effort and religious duty that they could not recognize that Jesus, the Messiah, was in their midst.

Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I disobey God’s commands, for every time I trust in my external actions to validate me before God and others, for every time my heart grows cold and blind to Jesus.

Oh Lord, I confess that I’m the offender. I’m sorry. It is wrong for me to trust in my own efforts and to chase after things that deliver a mere, momentary buzz of satisfaction and security. Thank you for letting me hear that You long for more. You’ve always fought for the hearts of Your people. I’m so grateful You’re eternally, lovingly pursuing mine.

Patti Sauls lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Scott and daughters, Abby and Ellie, where they serve alongside the people of Christ Presbyterian Church. Prior to living in Nashville, the Sauls planted churches in Kansas City and Saint Louis and served at New York City’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church. A trained speech therapist, Patti also enjoys serving behind the scenes, hiking with friends, and reading good books.

Post Comments (74)

74 thoughts on "Obedience over Sacrifice"

  1. Sarita Cochran says:

    Father, thank you for your “Agape” love, even when I’m disobedient. I can’t imagine where I’d be without you in my life.

  2. Melissa Mcronney says:

    Thank you Jesus

  3. J Francois says:

    Glory to God, thank you for showing me where I went wrong and allow me to clean it up by repenting of my sins. I am truly grateful to be your daughter and I acknowledge you as my father, in Jesus night name, Amen.

  4. Paula Kline says:

    The example of external patterns working toward building internal awareness and repentance was really striking for me today. Of course, I thought, I have spent my daughters entire life teaching her to function in life from the outside in. Never longing for mere obedience but the hope that is shaping that obedience she would experience its rhythms and benefit. That she would grow into an adult that embraces the underlying principles with her whole heart. But I think part of what I am learning is that the refining process is a mixture of this behavioral repetition along with the in dwelling of the Holy Spirit to provide me the security, healing and wisdom. It’s this dance between obedience AND grace.

  5. Pam Williams says:

    I make a habit of reading the scripture passages out loud. They seemed to cut to my heart much more quickly that way. I can feel the heart of God in these passages from Jeremiah, His love Over arches his discipline. I must remember this in my own life as I get so frustrated with my old sin nature, having to confess so often. I’m so grateful for his father love!

    1. Kristen F says:

      Pam, I agree that reading scripture out loud penetrates the heart. I am seeing God’s word and I am hearing God’s word which allows me to be more present in God’s word.

  6. Pam Williams says:

    Elizabeth Polley, praying.

  7. Hilary Voigt says:

    I long for my heart to be near to you. Let me not forget what you’ve done.

  8. Dorothy says:

    Jeremiah 7:23 says, “I did give them this command: ‘Obey me, and then I will be your God, and you will be my people. Follow every way I command you so that it may go well with you.’” This verse hit home with me, there have been and are times when I don’t follow the Lord’s commands. Therer are times when I think I know what’s best for me. Lord help me to follow your commands and your ways and your teachings. You know what’s best for me. Amen.
    Love what you said Kristen, Angie, Victoria, Churchmouse, Monie Mag, Peyton Grace Potts, and Sarah Terry
    Amen Nicole, Libby K, Brenda Lee, Dorothy Hecimovich, Kara, Sarah Barai, Haley Z, Candy B, and Jennifer Anapol
    Praying for you Elizabeth Polley.

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