Many of us are more comfortable with the idea of offering a sacrifice than extending genuine love and mercy to others, especially to those who have offended us or whom we regard as our enemies. It is much easier to participate in a sacrificial â€śsystemâ€ť than it is to engage in the arduous task of authentic self-examination and confession. Indeed, if we are not careful, such an approach can be used as a pretext for enabling callous indifference or even systematic malice toward others.
When the Pharisees objected to his practice of extending grace to sinners (i.e., the ritually unclean), Jesus twice quoted from Hosea 6:6: â€śFor I desire love (chesed) and not sacrifice (zevach), and the knowledge of God more than burnt offeringsâ€ť (Matt. 9:13, 12:7). To obey God is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22), and without the proper heart attitude of love, religious expression â€“ even if technically â€ścorrectâ€ť â€“ is nothing but a sham. Living a merciful life trumps your preferred theological ideologies.