“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent” (Matthew 12:7).
These words grabbed my attention early this morning. When the Pharisees came and accused Jesus and His disciples of breaking the Law by picking heads of grain and eating it on the Sabbath, Jesus’s response reveals a true purpose of God’s law. The point of the commands and laws and regulations in Scripture is to build character traits in us that allow us to better reflect God’s image.
The Pharisees had somehow missed this. The law was never about rote obedience, but about being more like God. The point is not the sacrifice, it’s the mercy. It’s not the strict regulations defining what “work” is on a Sabbath day, it’s the rest for a weary soul. It’s not living by the letter of the law, but by the Spirit of the Living God. If our character reflects the character of our Father in Heaven, we won’t need to worry about rules and regulations because we’ll be loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loving our neighbors as ourselves, and in doing so we’ll be keeping the law!
As I read these words of Jesus, I found myself asking the question, “Where does my character reflect God’s, and where does my character need to be more aligned with God’s?” God desires mercy, not sacrifice; love, not rote obedience. My prayer for us this week is that God will reveal to us how we might better bear His image and will build our character through His Word.