Peril of Pragmatism


I have a scar on my knee from a bike wreck years ago.  I was attempting the “longest skid ever” on my bike on the gravel road on which we lived.  I had successfully skidded 10’ and then 15’.  I wanted 20’.  I came racing down the hill as fast as I could go.  As I reached the best spot to slam on the breaks I hit a hot the wrong way and I was separated from the bike and my knee skidded through the rock and gravel several feet.  My mom told me to leave it alone after she washed it and it began to scab over.

I didn’t.

I picked at the scab when it began to itch.  The healing process was extended and now I have a scar.  Because I disobeyed mom and thought I knew better, I have a constant reminder that strict obedience is my best option.

So it is with God.

In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul is given specific orders on what to do with the Amalekites.  He was to completely defeat them and bring nothing home.  He brought home sheep and goats because he wanted to “make sacrifices to God of praise”.

That’s not what he was told to do.

From the rest of the chapter we discover that:

  1. Partial obedience is complete disobedience.
  2. Making sense to me is not what counts.
  3. Looking good for others is not the same as looking good to God.

We are broken because of sin and seek to live as we want, we see best, or to make ourselves look good.  All around us we find well-meaning people choosing partial obedience or rationalizing their behavior.

  • This child is inconvenient so I will take the “morning after pill”.
  • I don’t want this child so abortion is the only “rational” choice.
  • I have male parts, but identify as a female, so I will be a girl now.
  • If we love each other what difference does it make if we are a same-sex couple?
  • It’s just sex.
  • Living together just makes sense, because we need to see if this will work.
  • Show me where the Bible says I CAN’T do….
  • I go to church, what more does God want?

Many of these ideas have been in the news recently and, quite possibly, are in your family right now.  Our world is broken. We need someone to fix it.  In our minds we believe we can fix what is wrong, but we can’t.  The only one who can repair the damage is Jesus.

I once had a leaky faucet and need to repair the problem.  Being cheap, I attempted to fix it the “best way I could”.  Though I was told how to do it properly, I felt it cost too much and I could figure out a better way.  After several attempts to do it the way I thought was best it still leaked.  When I did it the way the expert told me to, it worked.  Not only did I end up spending the extra money, but I also wasted the time, effort, and expense of trying it my way first.

What happened to Saul is sad, but we live this today.  How long before we just accept what scripture teaches?

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