Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words
On at least two different occasions, Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9.13; Matthew 12.7). It’s quoted from Hosea 6.6, but in multiple other passages God tells us that He prefers obedience over going through the motions of worship (Isaiah 1.11ff; Amos 5.21; Micah 6; Mark 7).
This is NOT saying that worship is less important than obedience, since obedience causes us to worship. It does show God’s attitude toward those who claim to follow Him, but whose actions say otherwise.
Listen to the force behind His words in Amos 5.21, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.” Israel had adopted some religious and social misconduct.
Do our actions cause God to wince at our worship? Israel was God’s chosen nation, but when they neglected to show mercy, justice, compassion, or faithfulness, God rejected their worship and sent them into captivity.
So what kind of worship does God love? Obedience, mercy, pursuing good, showing compassion to those less powerful, integrity, justice, and being morally pure (Amos 5.11ff).