November 8, 2023

Obey Rather Than Justify

Written by Boyd Bailey

If you are not accountable to others, you can talk yourself into almost anything!”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 8, 2023

Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice. 1 Samuel 15:22

My biggest regrets in life are when I decide to do things my way when I know the Lord has shown me another way. I justify my will rather than obey God’s will. One such occasion was an encounter with a new “friend” years ago who had a “business” proposition for my wife Rita and me. Having a modest salary as a pastor then, we were open to side hustles as long as it didn’t interfere with our work and family time. Still in discussions, we met over lunch when I noticed our potential business partner took two pieces of fruit instead of the one prescribed by the large sign. I mentioned his minor indiscretion, and he quipped back, “nobody will ever know.” I thought to myself, “well, I know, and more importantly, God Almighty knows”. I sensed in my spirit from the Holy Spirit, “do not work with this man”. Yet impetuous and with an air of greed, we moved forward, agreeing on a one-year deal. And can I just say the next 12 months felt like 12 years, as his gray areas were clearly wrong to us. My lesson was to obey God, not justify.

Saul, one of the Lord’s chosen leaders, won a fierce battle when God gave him clear instructions to take no prisoners and, instead, slay all the enemy, the Amalekites, including their cattle. Saul, not believing the divine commands very practical, decided a better way was to spare the enemy’s leader, the king, and give the victor’s people access to the best of the oxen and sheep. Saul was then called out by the priest Samuel and held accountable for his actions of disobedience. And instead of confessing and repenting…he justified. He even wrapped his reasoning with a spiritual motive, that his plan was to use some of the animals as a sacrifice to God. But Samuel dismissed his religious guise and spoke the truth. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Do things God’s way, not your better way. If we are not accountable to others, we can talk ourselves into almost anything!

Outward religious activities used to justify an inward disobedience to the Lord mocks heaven. Not a healthy place to live. I’ve been guilty of spending generous amounts of time doing the Lord’s work while neglecting the generosity of time for my family and my health, while justifying with my heart and mind that my sacrifice for God was worth whatever I gave up. Yet, the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit was gentle, reminding me of my role as a husband and dad, which required mental and emotional margin to love my family properly. Furthermore, if my body, the Spirit’s temple, was being neglected, I ignored the spiritual discipline of caring for and nurturing my heavenly Father’s complex creation…my body. God’s grace and love called out my disobedience, and thankfully, I have Samuels who remind me to obey and trust the Lord’s best. Your idol of disobedience may look different, yet if it weighs on you…obey now. 

“And I said: “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments(Nehemiah 1:5, NKJV).


Heavenly Father, your ways are the best ways; protect me from my own justifications so I might obey you wholeheartedly through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Take an audit of your time and pray, “Lord, how can I best obey you with what I schedule on my calendar?”

Related Reading

Psalm 119:48; Daniel 9:4; John 14:15, 21; Romans 13:9

Worship Resource

David & Nicole Binion ft. MDSN: Yes (Obedience)


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