WHAT DOES GOD WANT FROM ME?
This question, or one like it, may have struck us at some point in our lives. We might realize in some kind of panic or gradually over a period of time that we have no clue what God wants from us. What does He want from me? What does He want from you? We are not alone in asking these types of questions. King David, the author of many of the Psalms wondered the same thing in Psalm 8:3-4: “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place, 4 what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?”
THE WORTHY QUESTION
What does God want from me?
I think this question is a good one. It is a worthy question for us to consider.
It is a worthy question because first of all, it begins with the question word ‘what’ and it is an actual question. By asking the question, you and I are not assuming that we know the answer. We are actually asking. We are seeking. We are knocking on the door of the One who knows the answer. Asking, seeking, wanting to know, are all good. Admitting that we need the Lord is great. In fact, Jesus Christ in Matthew 7:7-8 says about our relationship with God, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”
It is also a worthy question because it directs the question to God. It places Him first. It places God in the question as the One who indeed has the answer. We are looking to Him for the answers and that is always a good thing for us. God has the answers we seek.
It is also a worthy question because it keeps us last in the question. God is first and we are last. The question is asked and we realize that we don’t have the answers. We could ask it another way: ‘What can I give God?’, but you see that places us above God in the thinking of the question. I know that seems a little complicated and maybe not important, but asking ‘What does God want from me?’ is a humble manner of asking. God likes it when we are humble before Him. Proverbs 3:34 reminds us, “He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”
THE ANSWER FROM GOD
It is my hope that you believe that the Bible is God’s Word and in His Word is the answer to questions we are asking and answers to questions we don’t even know to ask. It is my hope that you take the Bible as God’s Word and you take it seriously and put it into practice. In Luke 8:20-21 it says about Jesus, “Someone told Him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see You.” 21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” Christians are a family that put His Word into practice. God’s Word is valuable. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
The question is: What does God want from me?
The answer comes from His Word.
There are four related passages among many which answer this question for us. They each say the same thing, but I slightly different ways. I would like us to read them together this morning and think through each one briefly. As we do so, we will find that God answers our question.
Proverbs 21:3: “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”
This verse is short and full of wisdom about God. Does God want us to be sacrificing robots who do all the right rituals and says all the right prayers? No. Sacrifice and ritual have their places and their reasons in our lives, but God wants us to be good and reflect Him. God wants us to be people whose hearts are committed to Him and in so doing we are people who do what is right. He wants us to do right. He wants us to act holy and good and loving and gracious and merciful and full of justice in any situation we find ourselves and among any people we meet.
Why is doing what is right more acceptable than sacrifice? Sacrifice is needed when we sin and rebel against God. God does not want us to go our own way but rather wants us to consistently reflect Him. Disobedience is disrespectful to God and God desires us to be respectful and good. I can also imagine at times sacrifice and ritual can be done to make ourselves look good in the eyes of others. We should primarily be concerned with how God sees us.
1 Samuel 15:22: “But Samuel replied: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”
The prophet Samuel is echoing the words of Proverbs 21:3. In the context of this particular verse in 1 Samuel 15, King Saul of Israel chose to keep the Amalekite king Agag alive after a battle and took the plunder from the battle rather than destroying everything as God had commanded. King Saul did what he wanted rather than what God wanted. He later admits that he was afraid of his soldiers not to let them have the plunder (1 Samuel 15:24). He wanted the approval of the people more than he wanted the approval of God.
God is telling Saul through Samuel that He did not need the plunder for some reason, but rather wanted Saul’s obedience. God wanted Saul to value his relationship with God over the relationships he had with other people. God says that when we love Him and call Him Lord that we obey and do as He says. God saw that King Saul’s heart was disobedient which displeased God greatly. God wanted His obedience.
Hosea 6:6: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”
The prophet Hosea was a man called by God to live out the disappointment and heartbreak God feels when we draw away from him. Hosea’s entire life was a sermon about how God feels when we sin against Him. God commanded Hosea to marry a woman who would never be faithful to him. She never was. In fact, Hosea had to buy his own wife back out of voluntary sexual slavery. Even the children born to him were not his because of her sexual ways.
Hosea 6 is a call for Israel to repent and to turn back to God for healing. Hosea talks about springs of water healing. He talks about restoration and living in the presence of God. Hosea communicates to them and to us that God does not want their sacrifices and burnt offerings and ritual prayers, but rather would rather have them living out merciful lives that reflected Him. He wants the acknowledging Him in every aspect of their lives which means faithfulness on the outside, but more importantly faithfulness on the inside.
Micah 6:7-8: “Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
The prophet Micah’s words sound similar to Proverbs, the prophet Samuel, Hosea, and others in the Scriptures. I like this passage because it highlights that God wants us to be perfect, but He knows that you and I deal with the sinful nature. None of us are perfect. We sin. We mess up.
Because we mess up, does God want us to slaughter 1000s of animals to make up for our sin?
Because we mess up, does God want us to dedicate 1000s of rivers of oil to pay for our sin?
Because we sin and it is serious, would it make up for our sin if we killed our children as payment for our sins?
No. That is quite extreme. God gave His Son for us by the way. His name is Jesus.
God wants us to understand that we sin and to not allow the sin to rule over us. We are not to be defined by our sin. He is to rule over us. We are to be subject to Him. We are to be defined by our God who loves us and made us. We are to reflect Him in acting justly, loving mercy in our lives, and being humble before God.
We started out asking the question: What does God want from me? We agreed that it is a good question and a worthy one for our attention. The answer that God gives can be found in His Word in various places which all agree with one another.
What does God want from me? What does God want from you? He wants the goodness, graciousness, mercy, holiness, justice, and righteousness that we see from Him reflected in our lives not just on the outside, but those things taking root permanently on the inside motivating us to obey Him of our own free will. He wants us to sacrifice our sinful nature to reflect Him.