But go and learn what this means, “I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,” for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Sacrifice is a difficult word to define. It can be subjective to both the person and the situation. Like the widow who gave her last penny, your “sacrifice” may appear less honorable than mine does. This mistake of gauging sacrifice by some means of measurement will always lead to a misunderstanding of Jesus and His purpose for your life.
The Pharisees misunderstood Jesus’ purpose when they accused Him of breaking God’s commands by eating dinner with tax-gatherers and sinners. He corrects their misunderstanding by commanding them to “Go and learn what, I desire compassion, and not sacrifice’ means.”
The Pharisees believed that their legalistic “sacrifices” were more honorable to God than Jesus’ decision to “eat with the sinners.” They were blind to the compassion that motivated Christ’s life. Jesus understood the heart of His Father. He understood that compassion always leads to true sacrifice. For Him, compassion would one day lead to the cross, the ultimate sign of sacrifice and obedience.
Where is your heart today? Are you driven by your obedient “sacrifices” or the compassion of Jesus? Have you ever passed over somebody with a need, just to get to church in time? What do you value more, your image at school, or your status as an ambassador of Christ’s compassion? “If your not careful, “sacrifice” will become routine, while compassion grows distant from your heart.