Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.
We are quick to sacrifice for God, probably because we assume that that’s what he wants. We think the thing that will most honor and please the Lord is us giving up our time to “go to the house of God,” whether that be spending time in church, reading the word, serving the poor, or an action that is considered God-glorifying.
The writer of Ecclesiastes challenges the assumption that God primarily wants something from us when he declares that “to draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools”. According to Ecclesiastes 5:1 God doesn’t want something from us, He has something for us.
We are to come to the house of God to listen and to receive, not to give. As Psalm 40 declares, sacrifices and offerings aren’t what God’s after. He’s the one who create. He’s the own who owns all things. He’s the one who is infinitely rich, powerful, joyful, and satisfied. He doesn’t need some foolish offering from us. Our time, money, energy, and even our worship ultimately don’t add anything to God. Those things, though good, aren’t the true core of what he’s after.
What he wants is people who will come before him and listen to his voice. He wants us to enter in to his presence and enjoy companionship with him. As we sit there, in the house and presence of God, love is planted and grows like the mustard-seed kingdom of heaven into a plant that bears the fruit of spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God rather that the sacrifice of fools.
Since the gathering of our Threshingfloor community last Thursday I committed to let the 75% of my prayer time that I normally spend talking be replaced with listening. It’s been so good so far. The peace that is poured out by the Holy Spirit when we take time to draw near and simply listen in the Father’s presence is exactly what so many of us need in our chaotic lives.
Let’s sit down and shut up for awhile. It’s better to drawn near to listen than it is to be constantly offering stuff to God. Let’s be the people who carve out time to come before God not as fools but as blessed sons and daughters who delight in their Father. We won’t be disappointed.