Proverbs 21:3

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3

Let us take a philosophical look at this Watchword. This will require that we first establish some working definitions.
To sacrifice is to give up or give over oneÂ’s right in deference to another. A sacrifice is that which is given up in deference to another.
Righteousness is living correctly or rightly before God.

One who is living rightly before God will not need to give up any rights to God since God would be in control of such a person’s life and that person would not think of withholding anything from God. The ‘rights’ therefore are God’s and we have ‘privileges’ from him.
Neither would there be need to give a sacrifice as a peace offering to God since persons would be living in obedience to God. If persons are fully righteous there would be no transgressions for which to atone by sacrifice.
Justice has to do with fairness and uprightness in our relations with each other. If persons are fully upright in their attitudes to others, then there is no need to give over any right – everything is already fair.

In rejecting Saul as king God said to him through Samuel, “To obey is better than sacrifice”. (See 1 Sam. 15) God had told the children of Israel, under Saul’s lead, to utterly destroy the Amalekites, but they captured the best of the spoil to sacrifice unto God. God preferred obedience over the sacrifice.

Jesus has already paid our sacrifice; what is required of us is that we be obedient to God, doing righteousness and justice.

Teach us obedience to you and your Word, O Lord, knowing that Jesus has already made the sacrifice for us. May Lent be a period for our reflection on what you require of us – righteousness and justice. Amen.


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