1 Samuel 15:22-23 (NLT2) But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft, and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the command of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”
First, it says,” obedience is better than sacrifice”. This statement is repeated throughout the Bible. Let see what Jesus said about obedience: Mark 12:33 (ESV)
3 And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
A sacrifice is a ritual, or we could call it works. Was Samuel saying that sacrifice or works are unimportant? Absolutely not! It is the heart, it is the motivation that one serves the Lord, one that worship the Lord that is important.
Religious activity is empty unless it is performed with an attitude of love and obedience. “ being religious” like coming to church, giving to charity or the church, even serving in some capacity, if it is not out of devotion and obedience to God it is nothing in the sight of God.