When he heard this, Jesus replied, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor — sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices.’ For I have come to call sinners, not those who think they are already good enough.” (Matthew 9:12-13 NLT’96)
Empty religion is what people think they must do to earn God’s favor. Broken people think they can do that by making sacrifices of some sort. But broken people can’t earn God’s favor. That’s why God sent Jesus: to make us new creatures who don’t need to earn God’s favor.
True religion is what people do because God has given them new life. Because we recognize our own brokenness — because we know God’s favor is a gift, not something we earn — our hearts are filled with compassion for other broken souls. We love God with all our hearts, and we love our neighbor as ourselves.
Too many of us try to honor God by dropping our stuff in the bucket labeled “Sacrifices.” How much of your day do you pour into the bucket labeled “Compassion”?