Mercy over Sacrifice

But go and learn what this means:I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13 (NIV)

He cradled the roses in his left arm like a running back carries a football. He debated with himself over which would be best: a solitary rose or a dozen roses wrapped with baby’s breath. He went for the dozen, thinking the more, the better when you’re trying to tip the scales back toward the “nice guy” side.

So he carried twelve deep-red roses just on the edge of a beautiful bloom. They’d cost him plenty, but that’s the price you have to pay when you let someone down. Today was their anniversary. There were dinner plans, a night of romance, whispered words, and tender kisses.

A wonderful, “sweet dreams are made of these” night—that he forgot.

Forgot because he was under pressure at work to complete a project; forgot because he needed to do well, not just because of ambition, but because he needed a promotion. The money was tight, and he wanted to be able to support his family in a better way.

The roses were a huge expense, but it was a necessary sacrifice to make it up to his wife and to make him feel better about his guilt. He owed her more, but this would be the start of earning his way back into her favor.

But now the image dissolves, and you see you’re the one carrying the roses and you’re bringing them to Jesus. The roses represent your “sacrifice,” those things you do to try to make up for your bad behavior, to make up for your sin.

But Jesus says he doesn’t want the roses, not if they’re delivered as a guilt offering for your sin.

By Jon Walker
Used by Permission

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Further Reading

• Misery and Mercy – A Devotional by Sue Braid

Jesus Desires Mercy, Not Sacrifice – A Devotional by Jon Walker

Grace, Peace and Mercy by Daniel Forster