Acts of Mercy
Matt. 9:13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.”
The religious leaders weren’t necessarily pleased with Jesus’ activities. They were extremely critical about the company which he kept. He challenged them by quoting from the prophet Hosea, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Sacrifice was the central feature of their worship and this was why they struggled with Jesus. The central feature of his life was hanging out with and ministering to sinners, and this was exactly what Jesus wanted them to understand. Acts of mercy among those who need to know God reveals the greatest act of mercy — leading people to repentance.
Using the excuse of being religious, the leaders made sure that they were engaged in the formal trappings of worship. What they missed out on was ministering to the needy.
We can become consumed with sacrifice which may look like the deeply religious person. We go to church on Sundays (or at least 2 or 3 times a month). We are good givers and supporters of God’s work through our tithes and offerings. We may even volunteer from time to time to help in the children’s department! All of this is a genuine sacrifice of your time, energy and resources…but it’s not enough.
Acts of mercy take us outside the walls of the church and into the lives of sinners. This is why the officials were critical of Jesus — he hung out with sinners. But where else would he get to know those who needed salvation? Mercy took him to the needy.
Acts of mercy will take us out of our comfort zone, away from the security of the church building, and into our communities. Acts of mercy are what Christ challenges us to consider.
Lord, may I be engaged today in acts of mercy. Amen.