“I desire mercy, not sacrifice” Matthew 12.7
These simple words turn so much on its head. When we do something special and sacrificial for God we really hope that he takes notice – writing it down, telling everyone how wonderful we are and rewarding us for our actions later. We don’t want our sacrifices to be in vain.
In this verse that Jesus quotes from the Old Testament, he is saying that he is not so much concerned about the things we do, but about our attitude as we do them. Once we regard the things we do as sacrificial we have lost something. An attitude of mercy is meant to flow from our hearts, so that we do things because we care and not because we want God to be impressed with us.
Such thinking reveals something about the heart of God as well. Enormous sacrifice was made by the Father when he sent Jesus for us, and by Jesus being willing to come. However the accounts of the suffering of Jesus don’t portray God highlighting his greatness, but instead revealing just how much he loves us.
As you look at an image of the cross, or perhaps hold a cross in your hand, thank God for his mercy and for his love for you personally.