Behold! To obey is better than sacrifice. – 1 Samuel 15:22
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The root of obey includes listen – as in understand. (Or take action in support of another by standing under.)
An elderly woman I knew once told of a visiting minister many years earlier who used this text in her message, and it made my friend bolt upright with clarity. She finally felt free to marry a man twice her age, despite the opposition of her family and many friends. And, as she said, what followed were “the happiest three years of my life.”
I love the way many scriptural verses come to be identified with specific people in my mind!
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Likewise, I believe all men need understanding and support. (For now, I’ll speak only of my own gender, perhaps responding to Paul’s admonition, “Wives, obey your husbands.”) What do most of us do on first dates? Brag about our accomplishments. Why? Because we are crying out for understanding. (“And then I told him, just before I stepped into my private, corporate Learjet …”) So listening is one way of easing a male’s burden. Hey, it ain’t easy being a male. (Just ask thy dad. I mean, he wants to sit down for a nice quiet hour of resting in the Lord and his kids give him heck instead. Really, now! I mean, if thee and thy bro want to revolt, go ahead – wreck the car or something, but don’t hit the poor guy where it’s going to hurt the most. Staying home from Meeting – by staying home – is like shooting thyself in the foot to prove that, uh, thee has a foot. Really, now!)
No, Paul’s insight doesn’t mean slavery or drudgery when properly applied. For a man to be directly under Christ is no easy position! That man needs all the help he can get!
Of course, I’m left wondering about the conversations we males have when we get together. Why can’t we get down to our emotions and inner turmoil? Why does it turn to sports and politics and economics so fast? What are we trying to avoid? (Look at all the sacrifices we’re making for our families!)
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God freely bestows his Grace upon Men and Women, and afterwards rewards his own Grace in his own Children. Which Words plainly imply, the Grace of God to be free to all, and to be tendered within, which whoso accepts thereof, to be led by the same, do thereby receive the Spirit of Adoption, and so come to obtain the Reward of Children … (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)