There are a few things that all religions do in common. One of those things is sacrifice. The general concept behind sacrifices is that you can make the deity happy by giving him something.
On the Areopagus in Athens, surrounded by statues of pagan deities who all demanded sacrifice, the Apostle Paul preached this in Acts 17:24-25,
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
I want you to consider with me in this post that God doesn’t want something from you, rather God is looking for you to be somebody who is upright in heart and character.
Let’s look at these 3 things: Heart & Hands, How God Sees, What God Wants
Heart & Hands
Heart = who we are Hands = what we do
Proverbs 15:8, “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.”
Proverbs 15:29, “The Lord is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.”
These verses are about who you are as a person. Did you notice in these verses that God responds to our sacrifices and prayers based on the condition of our hearts, based on who we are? External acts of worship, even if completely in line with what the Bible prescribes, are repulsive to God when the heart of the worshipper is wicked. And according to Proverbs 15:9, wickedness or righteousness is a lifestyle choice.
The reason God hates these kinds of “acts of worship” is because they are a lie. They are done in pretense or for show. It’s not who you are. Jesus dealt with it on a regular basis – highly religious people who had no heart…
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, – Matthew 15:7-9
How God Sees Us
We can fool each other. You can do things to impress me. You can make me think you are someone that you are not. And it’s not really that difficult. You see, we make decisions about people based on what we see on the outside: clothes you wear, job you have, way you talk, things you do, etc.
God see us differently…
For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7
No one has the ability to fool God.
What God Wants
The prophet Micah asked the question, “What does God want?”
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” – Micah 6:6-7
He came to the conclusion that God is not looking for something from you. God is looking for you to be somebody. He wants you to be a person of justice, kindness, and humility before him.
He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8
Proverbs reaffirms this as well. God is not looking for us to give him something, but rather he wants us to be a certain type of people. Proverbs 21:3, “To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
God doesn’t want something from you, rather God is looking for you to be somebody who is upright in heart and character.