Mercy Not Sacrifices

Mercy Not Sacrifices

13 January 2022

Jim Stephens

Reading: Matthew 12; Psalm 11

But you would not have condemned my innocent disciples if you knew the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ (Matthew 12:7 NLT)

The Pharisees often found themselves in opposition to something Jesus said or did, and they usually come off as the bad guys in the Good News story. They were, in fact, the most moral and most “righteous” of all the Jews. The Pharisees’ problem was that in their passion to be right, they became rigid. They were more concerned about doing things right than about doing the right things!

Pharisee thinking tends to be “either-or” thinking. You know, “We’re in, so either you think, talk, dress, look, eat, and act just like us or you’re out.” And, “We’re right, so either you agree with us on every detailed point or you’re wrong!”

Honest evaluation reveals that I have some Pharisee attitude in me. I sometimes (less often than before) tend to think that if I’m in, then others, to be “in,” must be like me. And sometimes (less often than before) I think that if I’m right, then others, to be right, must agree with me. By God’s grace, I’m less “either-or” than I used to be. I think Jesus is encouraged by that, don’t you?

Jesus said that my Abba Father prefers that I show mercy, not merely offer sacrifices. This is what that means to me this morning:
• I will keep learning to “Observe Without Judgment.”
• I won’t judge others by an inflexible set of rules or expectations, but will attempt to understand what they are facing and dealing with and be flexible with them.
• I will be flexible enough to think thoughts and take “heart-prompted” steps that are outside my “either-or” zone or my convenience zone.
• I will adjust my expectations of myself and others to make room for “heart-prompted” variations and differences.
• I will keep learning to be both Word-grounded and Spirit-prompted in my attitudes and my actions.


Father, Please help me to approach the people I encounter and the tasks I undertake with a mercy-showing heart. May I be a little less “either-or” and a little more “both-and” today. May I be a little more like my unconditionally-loving Father and my mercy-hearted Savior today and always. Amen.

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