“To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice (Proverbs 21:3, NIV).
Doing what is right is being obedient to God. Obedience means that I have submissive respect and love for Him. Obedience flows from a yielded heart which has responded to His love. It is not given out of duty, but out of surrender with no strings attached. My sacrifice though, can have strings attached. I might sacrifice something out of a sense of obligation or with the thought that I should get something in return. This kind of sacrifice is actually an attempt to show God I am in control—not to submit to Him. If I sacrifice something in my life for Him with the mindset He owes me something in return, then I have attempted to put God in my debt. If my heart is not yielded in submissive respect, my sacrifice becomes a travesty. It becomes an attempt to get what I desire from Him without completely surrendering my heart. I tell God what I want Him to do for me, but I hold on to my right to do what I desire.
Living an obedient life is one that honors His sacrifice for me. When I answer and respond to God’s loving grace in absolute surrender of my will to His, something beautiful happens. An intimate relationship of dependency and obedience grows. “If you really love me,” Jesus told His disciples, “you will keep the commandments I have given you (John 14:15a, J.B. Phillips). If I really love Him, I will obey Him. The question is how much I love Him. Do I really understand the debt that He paid on Calvary for me? Do I get it–really take His sacrifice into my heart? He sacrificed his life for me. I respond with my surrendered life completely dependent upon His grace. When I give something in response to His love, not really expecting anything in return, I am not really sacrificing it. I just honor the fact that God owns my life and everything I have is His. When I accept the love of the Savior who gave His life for me, my debt has been paid in full. I am dependent on Him. He is my all-in-all, and there is nothing I can give to Him except my obedient life.