The world is filled with people who go through the motions without having the heart behind them. In fact, we’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Perhaps at work, you just do what is needed to get through the day. I’ve seen marriages where someone is physically doing the acts to be a loving spouse but there’s no heart behind the actions. Going through the motions to do the right thing (following the rituals) is not what Jesus calls us to do. He wants our heart and soul… He wants a relationship with us.
One of the MANY times the Pharisees tried to trick Jesus, was found in Matthew 12. And knowing that Jesus knows all, means that this didn’t just happen. This was a setup to having this discussion with the Pharisees.
At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” (Matt 12:1-2)
But instead of defending His position or the need of His men to eat, Jesus points to the very scripture these Pharisees would have had memorized. He points to David doing very much the same thing He had just done. Then He says, “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” (Matt 12:7). In His response, He not only quotes scripture but then He even references one of the prophet’s prophecies about Him.
The quote comes from Hosea, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hos 6:6) In this scripture, Hosea is pointing to the unrepentant ways of Israel and Judah but God’s plan to restore His people on the 3rd day.
All too often in organized religion, we get lost in the sacrifice or rituals of what we think we ought to do for Jesus, when all He really desires is our steadfast love. Sure, many of those rituals should continue, but not because we are supposed to do them… but because we love Him and desire to do them.
Worshiping Jesus does not mean performing a worship act. Going to church, singing songs, sitting in a sermon, putting money in the plate…. these are all rituals. But doing them just because it is what is expected of us, is not ascribing worth to Him. “Worship” means to ascribe worth. But when we truly love Jesus, we desire to do these things, not out of obligation but rather out of our steadfast love for Him and for His people. When we ascribe such worth to Him that we put our own desires down and follow Him… that is true worship.
Don’t stop doing works, but do them because of your love for Him. Show Him how much you really love Him.
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