When the order was delivered, though, the “free gift” that I was supposed to get was not included. Apparently they were “out of stock,” so they had substituted a different gift of “equal or greater value.”
And you know, it wasn’t that big of deal. It wasn’t like I ordered unneeded stuff just to get the free gift or that the free gift I was expecting was something I felt I had to have and the substitute was very similar to what I was expecting.
Unfortunately sometimes we take this approach with God. We know that worship is about what God wants us to give Him. And we know what God has asked us to give Him (He tells us in the Bible).
But then we think, “Surely God wouldn’t be unhappy if I substituted something I like...I mean, it’s the ‘same’ thing, just a little different. Besides it is of ‘equal or greater value’...to me anyway. So I’ll just send it instead and He’ll accept it with no problem.”
I believe that to God, it is a VERY big deal. He is very deliberate in letting us know what He wants from us in our worship. When we start making substitutions, even if we like the substitute better, God does NOT find it acceptable.
The first recorded attempt at worship (Genesis 4) resulted in failure for 1/2 of the participants. Apparently God had given instructions and Cain had not followed them.
In Leviticus 10, we’re told of the death of Nadab and Abihu, sons of Aaron. I’m sure they thought fire was fire, but when God told them what fire to use and they presented “unauthorized fire before the Lord,” He was not pleased.
In Revelation 2 & 3, six of the seven churches of Asia receive criticism. In no uncertain terms, Jesus makes it clear that if they did not repent, He would not be pleased with them.
Other examples could be given. The point is that when God tells us what He wants, we need to give it and only it to Him.
Samuel told King Saul as he returned from the defeat of Amalekites in 1 Samuel 15, “...to obey is better than sacrifice…” (1 Samuel 15:22).
What God wants most from us is our obedience. Are you giving yours to Him?