In Matthew 9, Jesus tells the critical Pharisees to go and learn what this means: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice." Jesus is quoting from Hosea 6:6 which reads, "For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings."
God wants our hearts. He wants us to know Him and love Him, to understand His covenant, and to walk humbly with Him day by day, loving Him and His poor despised people. The ceremonies, sacrifices and rituals were designed to teach the people that they needed atonement (without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins) and that God was Holy and demanded perfection, and that they needed a Great High Priest and a perfect Lamb.
Jesus is that Great High Priest. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Recognizing Who Jesus is and what He has accomplished on the cross should bring us to our knees in awe and make our lips sing forth His praises in thanksgiving for all He has done. The proper response to His great mercy is that we walk humbly before Him.
Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road.
I am just as critical and rotten as the Pharisees who condemned Jesus for eating with sinners and tax collectors.
Why, you ask...
I have a husband who is a smoker. He has bladder cancer. I want him to quit smoking. I desperately want him to quit. I hate everything about his smoking. He's been told by the doctor that it is imperative for him to stop sucking on those cigarettes, and that there is a direct correlation between his smoking and his bladder cancer.
I have told my husband that if he doesn't quit, I am not going to accompany him on his trips to the doctor. I am not going with him to get the scope he has to go through on Tuesday. If there are signs of more cancer, I am not going to go with him as he drives to the hospital and makes that dreaded trek to the cancer ward to have more horrid treatments.
I figured that I was loving him by doing "tough love" - not enabling him to continue his filthy habit that has done so much damage to our family over the past 36 years.
Today, God reminded me that he desires mercy, not sacrifice. He wants His children to be like Him - to steadfastly love sinners, the poor despised people on whom He has set His affection.
God loves Rick.
He has called me to love Rick.
So, I don't need to condemn him, to not eat with him, to avoid him as the Pharisees avoided the tax collectors and sinners.
I need to love him.
I guess I'll be going with him to the hospital on Tuesday. Sigh.