The old phrase, “Work smarter, not harder,” has been around since the 1930s when industrial engineer, Allen F. Morgenstern, came up with a work simplification model to help increase production with less effort. In business and life, many of us strive to be more efficient every day as we seek ways to get better results while simultaneously reducing the energy and exertion spent in our processes.
While we may be professionals with this philosophy in our careers, too often we reverse the model when it comes to our walk with Christ. In 1 Samuel 15, Saul disobeyed the Lord’s command to destroy all of the flocks and herds of the Amalekites. He instead saved the best of the sheep and oxen. His rationale was, “Just think of all the sacrifices that we can make to God!” Samuel’s response is a classic reminder of God’s simple way: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22).
What’s the point? We can work our fingers to the bone, even sacrificing our time, effort, and energy for the sake of the ministry, but if our hearts are not yielded to Christ, and if we are doing things our way and not God’s way, then we have missed the simple, yet profoundly important priority of God—that is—obedience. David said it beautifully after being confronted with his sin: “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise (Psalm 51:16-17).”
As a Christian, perhaps you find yourself exerting a lot of effort externally but seeing few results in your personal growth. Perhaps it’s time to think about the “smarter, not harder” approach. Someone once said, “God’s way may not be easy, but it is simple.” Jesus wants your heart and your obedience above all the sacrifices you could offer Him, and that is a smart decision. Will you yield to Him today?