Sacrifices made to God are meant to be an external expression of an internal reality. One may surrender their time, abilities, possessions, money, goals, preferences, preoccupations, etc. to God in such a way that they glorify and further His Name and His Kingdom. However, for many reasons (hypocrisy, pride, guilt, deception, misinformation, immaturity, ritualism, etc.), many sacrifices meant to please Father God are actually offensive to Him. Why? Because the motivations for, attitudes about, or resentments associated with these sacrifices can reveal a warped, negative, unhealthy, or even hateful/repulsive attitude towards Him. And the reality is, God is the only one who can see the truth about what is going on in someone’s heart.
The Bible makes very clear that sacrifices given out of improper motives are not valued by God. Here are a few examples that help us understand the importance of our attitudes and intentions when it comes to making sacrifices to the Lord.
To Humble Yourself Before God is Better Than Sacrifice
- Psalm 51:16-17 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
- When we truly humble ourselves before God, we show that we desire to honor and please Him. Genuine humility demonstrates a fundamental grasp of, and sincere appreciation for, His exalted position, authority and perfect moral character.
To Listen to God is Better Than Sacrifice
- Ecclesiastes 5:1 Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil.
- To go beyond the letter of the law and discern what God is really saying, reveals a heart that is eager to hear the truth as revealed in His Word and by His Holy Spirit. Without His Spirit to teach us, we are unable to grasp the deep meanings and correct applications of scripture.
To Show Mercy Before God is Better Than Sacrifice
- Matthew 12:7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.
- We serve a merciful God. When we show mercy to others, we reveal the changes His indwelling presence has made in our lives. As unnatural as mercy is to the depraved human nature, the empowering of God’s Spirit and enlightening of His Word make even the impossible possible.
To Love God and Others is Better Than Sacrifice
- Mark 12:33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
- Godly love is not based on emotions, feelings or attractions. To love God and others is to make decisions and sacrifices that put the needs of others above our own. The love of God is revealed in the children of God.
To Obey God is Better Than Sacrifice
- 1 Samuel 15:22 So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
- God-honoring obedience is evidence of a God-centered life – a life built on love for, appreciation of, reverence towards, and trust in the creator and sustainer of all things. Complete surrender to who He is and what He desires enables obedience based on His strength and attributes.
The ultimate sacrifice we make to God is ourselves. We are called to surrender all that we are to Him and then live in a way that gives Him glory. Relatively speaking, very few Christians are called upon to die for their faith in Christ. We are called to live for Him in a world that hates us! Living our lives for His glory is true worship of Him.
- Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
Are there external expressions of your faith in God that misrepresent the internal realities of your relationship with Him?
Dear Lord, help all those who have been reconciled to You by faith in Jesus to honestly examine their sacrifices to and for You. Guide and empower us to address the hypocrisies and mistakes in how, what and when we do things to serve and honor You. Forgive us when we fall short. For those who pretend to love and serve you with selfish or evil intentions, draw them to salvation in Christ – give them the faith to believe and to fall in love with Jesus. I ask these things in the name of Jesus, my Lord and Savior. Amen.