I was the "good" kid in my family, the one who never got in trouble, who followed all the rules, who never gave her parents much to worry about (at least that's how I remember it!). My sister sowed some wild oats and my twin brothers fulfilled all the predictions when they were born that they would "be a handful."
I was the responsible oldest child who walked the straight and narrow. I read my Bible, went to church, participated in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Bible studies. I didn't mean to do all those thing to impress God, but I was pretty sure He'd be happy with me. I suffered the taunts of my sister and cousin. I wore the badge of "good girl." I worked hard to be "spiritual" and "godly" and secretly smiled inside when someone called me "religious." Surely God would be pleased with me, right? I mean, look how much I had done, putting aside the folly of youth and concentrating on Him? I took pride in myself and when my siblings caused grief, I puffed up a little more, knowing I would never do that.
Pardon me for a moment while I throw up a little in my mouth.
Who did I think I was?! What is important to God? Does checking spiritual things off a list please Him? What traits does He find desirable?
“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”
God wasn't impressed with my "sacrifices" in my attempts to be good. It was pretty easy to live a righteous life when I wasn't presented with any opportunities to do otherwise. My superior attitude was a result of being young and stupid, of not living through any real struggles.
I spent too much time making my outside look good, instead of polishing my inside. And that is where the danger comes for any of believer wanting to please God. We're tempted to put on a show with our "sacrifices" and "burnt offerings," our outer attempts to prove ourselves godly. We too easily fall into the appearance trap.
So how are we to act if we want to honor God?
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Act justly. LOVE mercy. Walk HUMBLY with your God. Then we are truly righteous. Then we make Him smile.
For more thoughts on this week's quote, visit Nina at Mama's Little Treasures.