"But go and learn what this means: I desire compassion, and not sacrifices, for I did not
come to call the righteous, but sinners."
I paused for a moment. I read the verse again. Inside my mind, I could see a dusty file cabinet spring open. The drawer contained all the ideas I learned as a child that I considered to be true, factual statements. A yellow parchment floated out of the folder and came to rest next to my Bible on top of a small table. The time had come to learn the necessity of compassion and the meaning of sacrifice. Mentally, I walked to the table, took a seat in the straight-backed wooden chair, picked up my Bible, and began to read.
I must admit I found this verse a little disturbing. I examined the words in my mind, pondering the times I helped someone in need when I didn't really want to. Truth be known, I would walk away shaking my head at their inability to be as "strong" as me. Conviction broke over me like an ocean wave. Did I really think God was more pleased with what I was doing rather than how I was doing it? Not by a long shot.
God was unimpressed with the to-do list I carried around like a badge of honor. Mark 1:41 (NASB) tells how Jesus was "moved with compassion" at the sight of the leper. He stopped and healed him. Was I willing to change my agenda at a moment's notice in order to help a person in need? Or, was I so focused on my goals that I became unwilling to veer from the plans I had made? Hard questions to answer, but necessary if I truly wanted to please God.
David tells us in Psalms 51:16-17 (NASB),
"For you do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You aren't pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."
When I read the psalmist's words, I saw that giving up material possessions and personal time are secondary to God's idea of sacrifice. A repentant heart and humble spirit are necessary if I wished to be used of God. The two were codependent. The spirit must break before the heart can feel. The heart must remain humble in order to be sensitive to the moving of God's Holy Spirit. Once the vessel is empty, God can fill it with the fruits necessary to complete whatever task He sees fit for me to do.
With this new thought in mind, I crumpled up the yellowed paper from years gone by trashing the belief that God wanted quantity rather than quality of service. A theory that caused me to be critical of others and proud of myself. A deadly combination when it comes to matters of the soul.
I pulled out a new paper and began to write:
"God loves me. He longs for compassion, not obligation. My attitude during service matters more than the service itself."
When we feel the demands on our lives are too much, we need to remember that our attitude is most important. If the person we are ministering to feels the slightest impatience on our part, we are doing harm to the cause. It is better to step back and ask God to evaluate our activities and show us His agenda, so He will be pleased and others will be blessed.
Pamela Rosario lives and works in Florida. She is a wife, and the mother of two daughters. She gives all glory and praise to her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for every good thing in her life.