Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.”
—Luke 9:13a (NLT)
Jesus had just been asked by the Pharisees why he was eating with tax collectors and sinners. He told them that it was because “healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” And then Jesus told them to learn the meaning of this Scripture: “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.”
The same is true for us—we are to show mercy and not offer sacrifices. We also need to learn the meaning of this Scripture that initially came from Hosea 6:6. Hosea demonstrated love and mercy toward his wife Gomer, a prostitute. God demonstrates His love for us that while we were yet sinners, Jesus died for us. The love of God is what He is recounting to the Pharisees, "I have not come to call the righteous, but I have come for those who are sinners. The healthy don't need mercy. The sick do."
Jesus never regarded dying for us as a sacrifice. To Him, it was mercy—clemency—compassion. He never gave Himself for recognition. He gave us unearned and undeserving grace. When someone regards what they do for someone else as a sacrifice, they have just shown that their concern is about themselves—that they desire recognition for their gift. Jesus’ gift of His life was never about Him. It was all about us.
Do we have the same attitude as Christ? Do we love and shower grace on believers and unbelievers alike, or do we withhold mercy? Mercy says, "I care for you because Jesus loves you, unconditionally." Sacrifice says, "I care for you because it is required." Loving should never be a requirement. It should always be a gift.
“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,” Paul writes, “but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (I Corinthians 13:3-7, NLT).
This kind of love is pure mercy. It is kind and patient. There is no envy, and it is not self-seeking. Just like Jesus, this love keeps no record of wrongs. His mercy-filled love always rejoices with the truth. It protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.
“In your relationships with one another,” Paul writes, “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:5-8, (NLT)!
“Show mercy,” Jesus said. “Don’t offer sacrifice.” Sacrifice places the focus on us, and we work for recognition. Mercy places the focus on Jesus. Instead of working to be noticed, mercy fills us with the love of Calvary. Our mindset becomes His. Our love is no longer a sacrifice. It is full of His grace.
©2020 Lynn Lacher