Proverbs 21:3 (ESV) – To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.
Have you ever stopped to consider that God has a hierarchy of pleasures? There are some things that delight Him more than other things. There are things He delights in, but not equally. Just as we have a ranking of enjoyments and pleasures in our lives, there are things that God is pleased with more than other things.
Our passage today points us to one such reality, and it is a big one. We read in Proverbs 21:3, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.”
This proverb contrasts two things that God called His people Israel to do. They had obligations to offer sacrifices based on the commands of God. They had sacrifices to make for atonement of sins, and these were not negotiable if God was to have any relationship with them. They were important.
But notice in this passage we see that there is something greater in God’s esteem than sacrifice. It is more acceptable to Him for His people to “do righteousness” and “do justice.” The key here is “do.” Their lives are to be marked by righteousness and justice. They are to practice these things in their everyday living. To do justice and righteousness meant to live in accordance with God’s commands and respond to situations in a way that reflects God’s heart. In other words, these things were to mark their postures and desires, not just their activities. God’s delight is in people who are just and righteous people. And the fruit of our lives demonstrates that those things are the root of our character.
The proverb says God sees those things as more acceptable than sacrifice. It’s not that sacrifice doesn’t matter or is inconsequential. It’s that one ranks above the other.
Any individual who wants the favor and pleasure of God will see that He enjoys a life and heart that reflects His own, more than any sacrifice we offer. He delights to see our hearts match His justice and righteousness by how we live.
This reflects the purpose of why we were made. Our display of justice and righteousness is a display of His justice and righteousness. Give God the more acceptable thing.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why does God delight in justice and righteousness more than sacrifice?
- What does this show us about God’s character and nature?
- How can we take this lesson into our lives today?
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