I am currently going through Matthew, you can read my notes here. Several times I read Jesus saying, “I desire mercy and not sacrifice”(Matthew 9:13, Matthew 12:7). I did not really understand what those words meant. I understood that Jesus wanted us to show mercy, but I also knew Jesus required sacrifice (Matthew 10:16-25, Matthew 10:34-39, Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:34-38). I did not really understand what he was saying in these verses. I am ashamed to say that I merely skipped over these verses. I figured it would just go into the pile of biblical verses that I do not understand. Well I was reminded today of those verses.
I was reading some blogs and came across some pictures of the destruction in Joplin Missouri. The post was titled Joplin: To See With Jesus’ Eyes. I have asked before for God to give me His eyes, to see the world as he sees. Knowing that if he actually did that, I would be constantly broken-hearted. It is one of those prayers that I do not really want God to answer. Recently I have felt like I have forgotten that prayer. I have become more selfish and more concerned with my comfort level, than grieving in my heart for other people. As I was looking at the pictures of Joplin, I was reminded of the song “Give Me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath. Every time I listen to this video I almost cry.
So I went back to the bible and researched “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” Jesus was quoting Hosea 6:6, where God says that he does not want meaningless sacrifices without a sacrificial heart. The purpose of traditions are to remind one that they should have the heart for God. The sacrifices are a means to an end, they are not an end in themselves. In Psalm 51:16-17, David is even more blunt saying that God does not want sacrifices, but a broken heart.
So this brings me back to the New Testament passage and the seeming contradiction of Jesus saying he does not want sacrifice. I think that God desires us to see the world through His eyes. To see the world with a broken heart, for all the people who are hurting. We are not called to just go through the motions and sacrificial acts thinking that is our purpose. We are called to show mercy on the world. If we have mercy on our neighbors, sacrifice will happen, but not for the sole purpose of sacrifice. Mercy and compassion are what are desired by God.
I have made similar prayers before, but I will make this one publicly.
Father God, let me see with your eyes. Let me see the hearts of the people around me. Have my soul be moved by the pain of those around me. Give me motion, give me the will to act with mercy and compassion. Give me your strength, so I can be broken-hearted for the people around me, but not paralyzed by the grief. Even though I will see the pain of those around me, give me joy. For I know that you are an awesome and mighty God, and all things are for your good. I do not know the ramifications of the things I am asking, but I ask, that this makes me into the person that you desire.