To do righteousness and justice is desired by the Lord, rather than sacrifice.
God really isn’t interested in how much time you spend in prayer, how often you go to church, or whether or not you read your Bible consistently. He’s not impressed with how many verses you have memorized, how many Hail Mary’s you have said, or if you give ten percent of your paycheck to the church every Sunday morning. God desires a pure and blameless heart. He desires righteousness and justice rather than sacrifice.
James 1:27 says, “This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
King David also realized this truth when he writes, “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You wilt not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).
Jesus came to this earth as an offering for our sins. He lived a life of righteousness and justice, a life that we as children of God should also pursue. While Christ was on earth, He memorized much Scripture, spend large amounts of time in the synagogue, and prayed unceasingly. This, however, was not His purpose for living. His purpose was to model the compassion and love of God His Father to a dying and broken world. His reason for living was to provide hope where there was despair and light where there was darkness. When the Pharisees questioned Him for spending more time in the houses of sinners than in the synagogues, He sharply rebuked them saying, “Go and learn what this means, �I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:13).
I am curious as to how well you would measure up against the words of Christ. In my own life I am ashamed to reflect on how little time I spend in prayer and Bible study. To look beyond these outward sacrifices and into my heart is only more humbling. If it is a righteous and pure heart that God desires, I have much further to go than simply picking up my Bible, attending church, or sitting down in prayer. I challenge you to think about your purpose for living. Are your days spent pursuing money and popularity, or purity and integrity?
While reading the Bible, spending time in prayer, and going to church are all expected and encouraged disciplines of the Christian life, I caution you to not evaluate your walk with the Lord by how often you participate in any of those activities. Man may judge what is on the outside, but God judges the heart. What shape is yours in?
Make your passion for life one of righteousness and purity; it is only then that you will find prayer and Bible study meaningful.