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."
Dying for us was not a sacrifice to Jesus. To Him, it was mercy—forgiveness—compassion—unconditional love. 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 revealed that their concern is about themselves. When we seek to show others that we have sacrificed, we seek recognition. And that is pride. 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 forgive and care for you because Jesus loves you, unconditionally." Sacrifice says, "I forgive and care for you because it is required." Loving should always be a gift—never a requirement. If keeping the law makes us righteous, then Jesus’ gift of His life was in vain (Galatians 2:21). It is a sacrifice to do something for someone when it is required. It is mercy when it flows from faith.
“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 God’s love for us. It is pure grace. 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 grace-filled love always rejoices with the truth. It always 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.”
Loving others becomes a sacrifice instead of an offering when we look at it as a requirement. When we seek recognition for our sacrifice, it places the focus on us. And that is prideful.
Mercy is full of humility. It places our focus on Jesus. Humility doesn’t focus on the self and what it achieves. Humility surrenders to Christ’s grace on Calvary. It places the well-being of others ahead of its own. When we understand that humility doesn’t exalt itself and doesn’t have to earn what has already been earned in Christ, we receive more grace to empower our lives.
“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (James 4:6, NKJV).
God gives more grace to you when you choose to have an attitude toward others like Christ had toward you. His love in you will just flow. You will be a good steward of His grace. Your offering will not be a sacrifice. It will be full of His Redeeming Love. Your offering will be His gift of grace.
© 2023 Lynn Lacher