You say you desire mercy, not sacrifice. What does that mean? Cause I thought sacrifice was the way to live Christian, the way to give of myself for another.
But your word is true. So I wrestle with it.
To sacrifice is to offer. The act of giving up something that is mine for someone else. These burnt offerings are not meaningless. They are ceremonial in nature. And their aroma is pleasing to you. You tell me this. But I can sacrifice my money for the cause of another, yet, it’s not really giving of myself. And I can sacrifice part of my day to help someone, without really entering into their need.
So, could it be there is a better way to approach brokenness? A way of living that goes beyond sacrifice, and takes us into mangers in barns and crosses on hills?
Is this what you mean when you say you desire mercy? A loyalty that goes deeper than giving up something on behalf of another? A faithfulness that loves through embrace rather than doing without? An acknowledgment of who you are, rather than what we’re able to give?
Mercy is entering into the brokenness of another. Joining them in the darkness of their sin. In the pain of their heartache. In the loneliness of their divorce. In the confusion of their wandering. In the hopelessness of their grief.
In the pit of sin, in the depths of pain, in the hollow places of grief….. there is really very little to offer someone other than yourself. Burnt offerings of material possessions and resources are welcomed and received. But they will not bring healing and restoration. For they are not eternal.
When your people were lost to you, you sent manna. You sent rain. You sent leaders. You sent sacrifices of love to reveal who you were and to show you were trustworthy. But your truest act of love was when you sent yourself. It was when you came to us. When you entered our dirty world. When you walked into our sin. When you joined us in our suffering.
This is mercy, isn’t it? And you desire it because you know it’s the better way. Because you know the way to holiness is through entering the lives of others.
Teach us in your ways of mercy. How to love through embrace. How to welcome by entering. How to receive by joining. For our acts of mercy authenticate our sacrifices of love.
Be merciful to us, oh Lord, that we might be merciful to others. That our love might move beyond our giving and serving. To a life of grace and compassion for the brokenness all around us. To a commitment of seeking truth and understanding. To a willingness to get dirty in the mess of others. To a life focused on the eternal, rather than the things that burn away.
Teach me, oh Lord, for now I desire mercy, not sacrifice.