THE UNACCEPTABLE EASY WAY OUT
Oh Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud and like the early dew it goes away. I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:4-6
Why is it that I think I can get away with cheating God? This issue of mercy and sacrifice was of utmost importance to Jesus. He quoted this passage twice in Matthew to the religious leaders of His day. He wanted them to know what is still so pertinent today ~ you bring animals for sacrifice but you don’t bring me your life as a sacrificial offering. What’s missing is commitment of the heart.
What constitutes a sacrifice Jesus accepts? Is it singing a song on Sunday morning? Will teaching a Sunday School class for 50 years suffice? How about giving $10,000 to the building fund? The message of Hosea is clear. If anything we ‘do’ is a substitute for a life laid on the altar, it is unacceptable no matter how great the deed in the eyes of men. God is all about the consecration of the heart. He is looking for a man or woman who kneels privately in worship, who pours out their love for their Savior, who bows in abject humility, and obeys His momentary nudgings as a way of life. Unless our songs, offerings, and teaching of others is fueled by this kind of heart, we bring unacceptable offerings and God will not be coerced to accept them.
I do believe we will be shocked one day to hear God say to so many who are familiar to us, “Depart from me, I never knew you.” At that moment, the nature of our service will be revealed. We either did it for show, as a way of fitting in and impressing others, or our good works were the overflow of a private relationship. Without a backdrop of tribulation, it’s hard to tell who’s who. When Christianity thrives and being associated with a notable church brings public reward, pretense flourishes. The rewards are palpable. But let waves of persecution come against the church, and there is a sifting. Who would have the guts to play games with God and the church if they were to be punished by government authorities?
May we have enough integrity to do some internal sifting today. May we ask ourselves some difficult questions just because the power of the Word convicts and God’s opinion matters.
If I serve You only to be popular, I will have enjoyed the only reward that due me. Show me where I am pretending. I’m so serious about this prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen