God Desires Mercy More Than Sacrifice

Daily God Walk for Monday, May 10, 2010

 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners? On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”                                    – Matthew 11-13

 When I read this passage I wonder how long it had been since these Pharisees had a friendly conversation with one they would call a “sinner.” These “righteous” ones had long before washed their hands of any association with people who might cause them to be unclean. Not only did they not associate with such riff raff but they would certainly not sit down to eat with them. But Jesus did.

There is one major point of the law that these religious leaders missed. They missed mercy. They got the part about “Thou shalt…” do this or do that, and, “Thou shalt…” not do this or not do that – but they forgot God’s intent in all of the law.

God’s intent was not to put man in a box of do’s and don’ts, but his intent was to show how one could live when he is filled with His Spirit. God’s plan was to offer rest for the weary and hope for the hopeless. He never intended that his law would become a stick with which to beat those who didn’t live up to religious expectations.

The problem the Pharisees had was that they well understood the letter of the law but they did not have a clue when it came to the spirit of the law. Jesus reminded them of the passage in Hosea chapter six where God is rebuking Israel because they did not understand mercy, or love. Their faith was not in the lawgiver but in the law itself. They served the law while God was calling them serve him in love.

We must be careful that we do not become so religious that we miss the point Jesus was making. It is true that we are to live righteously, but it is his righteousness that should be in us, not our own.

What does this mean: I desire mercy, not sacrifice?

 Principle: Learning mercy is better than a rigid commitment to law.

 Affirmation:  Being merciful is a virtuous application of the law.

 Prayer:  Lord, help me to not be so focused on the law that I forget mercy. Grant me the ability to love the unlovely. In Jesus name, amen.

Would you like a printed copy of the Daily God Walk? Visit us at: www.newhopeministryresources.org/dailywalk.html

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Paul ”Hope Preacher” Smith

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