Daily Worship

The sacrifice of showing mercy

Jane Denniston April 21, 2024 6 3
Image credit: Unsplash
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Matthew 9: 10-13 (NRSVA)

10 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 12 But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

We talk a lot about sacrifice in the church – Jesus’ sacrifice for us, the sacrifice he calls us to make in return. Yet here Jesus tells us he wants mercy not sacrifice. Is that easier than sacrifice? Perhaps not, after all, mercy can contain sacrifice. If we are to eat with ‘tax-collectors and sinners’ and welcome those on the margins, we will have to sacrifice our own comfort and preferences and put aside our views of what is acceptable and what is not. It’s easy to disapprove of those on the margins and criticise their life choices and decisions, but Jesus welcomes instead of criticising and accepts instead of disapproving. In the end it’s his acceptance and welcome which changes lives, not disapproval and criticism.

The question for us is: can we trust God to be working in the lives of others and accept them in his name or are we so thirled to our view of what is right and acceptable in his eyes that we cannot bring ourselves to accept them as they are? Can we show love and mercy, even to those of whom we are tempted to disapprove, and leave the rest up to God?




Lord, forgive us when we think that we know best.

Forgive us for judging others;

for attempting to remove the speck from their eye

while ignoring the log in our own.

We can speak, sometimes glibly,

of sacrificial giving;

help us not to underestimate the power of sacrificial mercy.

Give us eyes to see from your perspective,

hearts to care with your love,

minds which are humble enough to know that we could be wrong

and patience to walk with others while you work in their lives, Amen