Go learn what this means, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” ~ Matthew 9:13
This weekend at our family Christmas in July, my Uncle Phil did the devotional Sunday morning. He began asking us all to swallow. Everyone did. He then asked us to spit in our hands then swallow the spit. Nobody did. We all looked at him like he was crazy.
His point was that though it was the same, the spit inside our mouths was part of us–me. But once it had left our bodies it was outside our circle–not me.
He said we do the same with people. We label them and ultimately judge them and show or refuse mercy on whether or not they are in our circle–me or not me.
For years God’s people were asked to make sacrifices. In fact it was one of the primary ways they accessed God and worshipped Him. But Christ said, “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” He didn’t say “or” or just “and,” instead he said “and not.” Why is that?
Two reasons come to mind. First, in the end Christ made the ultimate sacrifice once and for all. There is no need to sacrifice in order to be right before God or to access Him.
Second, sacrifice often become easy and routine very quickly. We say we’re going to sacrifice going out once a week to give to missionaries. The first few times it may hurt, but after a while it ceases to hurt. We become used to the sacrifice. In my life this is the way of many sacrifices I choose to make.
Mercy on the other hand is always hard. It is accepting those who are “not me” and making them part of “me.” It’s treating everyone like they are in our circle. The guy who cuts you off driving, the waiter whose having a hard day, the kid whose bullying your kid at school. It’s looking past their actions to see the person hurting inside. It’s cutting them slack because you know you’ve had hard days, too.
Mercy and not Sacrifice. Yes, sacrificing is important. The missionaries need your money, but maybe the slow and cranky cashier needs your mercy more.
For further study…