Just a little scripture reflection for you…
My kids love writing birthday wish lists. They make a list of all the things they want, their greatest desires and the things that would bring them the most joy. Can I tell you a secret…I’m actually thankful for that because it makes it super easy to know what to buy for them. I can’t go wrong if I get a few things from the list.
Well God did this exact thing with His people in the book of Hosea. Well, not so much regarding His birthday, but a list of what He desires from His people. A little while ago I was reading through this book and I came across this verse in the middle of chapter 6: “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6 NKJV)
So if God is telling you what He really wants, if He is making the list, surely the people would listen? Isn’t that what we do when people we love tell us what pleases them or what they would like or desire from us, we listen right? Don’t we pay attention when someone important to us makes it clear what they really want?
How about when we express to others what we would like for a birthday gift or mothers day or any other special occasion? We would hope they listen to us too. We would probably not appreciate being ignored? I don’t think my children would appreciate it either if I paid no attention to their list and got them something they didn’t even want – it would also be a waste of my time and money.
So why did God make this list? He was the One who initially set these actions and rituals in place. The rules around sacrifices and offerings were part of His original plan for His people to be cleansed and walk in relationship with Him. So, I get it, it could sound strange to hear God saying that He desires mercy and not sacrifice, but I think the key here is that the people of God missed the whole purpose behind the action of the sacrifice.
God’s heart all along was that His people get to know Him, to walk in relationship with Him. What goes on in their hearts is way more important to Him than a ritual they perform with their hands.
As we read throughout the book of Hosea, the people of God got it back to front. The ritual, the sacrifice or offering was supposed to reflect what had already taken place in their hearts – a surrender, a laying down of their own way, a returning to the heart and will of God, but instead their hearts were hardened and turned from Him. Therefore the rituals didn’t mean anything to God anymore. He wanted their hearts back. And He wants yours too my friend!
God is always more concerned with the condition of our hearts than the actions of our hands.
He desires that we know Him before we serve and perform for Him.
Friends, I pray this little reflection encourages you to listen to the heart of God. Spend time with Him, grow your relationship with Him before you focus on performing for Him. That is what He really wants.
Bless you, Laura