“Learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
— Matthew 9:13
Some years ago the United States Senate held confirmation hearings for a top government position. The appointee had done something bad in the past but had also done some good things since then. Sadly, the most disappointing part of the process was in the arguments that were made in favor and against. The underlying belief on both sides was that bad people stay bad and good people stay good. People don’t change.
Jesus didn’t believe that about people. The whole point of Jesus’ coming was to change people. And while only God can truly change people, God grants those changes abundantly. That’s because God acts with mercy, and he calls us to do the same.
Too often people get caught up in trying to please God by their acts of worship, including sacrifices—that is, giving things up in order to please God. But if our actions are just self-serving, they are not sacrificial. Yet, ironically, if we act with mercy toward someone struggling to turn their life around, that is a sacrifice that pleases God.
In Christ, we can believe that a person’s life can change. And if you are wondering if God will accept you despite what you’ve done with your life, yes, he absolutely will accept you. Give your life to him today, and pray for others to encourage you in your life of faith.
Dear Jesus, thank you for your grace in turning our lives around. Help us never to withhold the mercy you have shown to us. Amen.