Empty Rituals

When we think of the word sacrifice, it implies giving something that costs the giver in terms of self, time, or money. To give sacrificially requires more than a token effort or gift. God wants us to give voluntarily, but He wants it to mean something. Giving to God what costs you nothing does not demonstrate commitment (1 Chronicles 21:24).

Sacrifices that please God come from true love and obedience. In the OT times, people would offer animals as substitutes for themselves, symbolizing their faith in a merciful, forgiving God. Unfortunately, all too often we see in Scripture these sacrifices were but empty practices: they followed the rituals, but their hearts were far from Him (Isaiah 29:13). Thus, these sacrifices were not pleasing to God. We may fall into the same pattern today by participating in religious activities, tithing, or attending church regularly more out of habit than of heartfelt love and obedience.

It is easy to forget that every good gift comes from above and that pride of possession can enter into even the most faithful of God’s servants. When we entertain such errant thinking, we allow material things to come between us and God and use the blessings He has bestowed on us selfishly.

It is in our obedience to God in our heart that is most pleasing to Him (1 Samuel 15:22; Psalm 40:6; Amos 5:21-24), something that Paul also emphasized when he reminded us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). As a living sacrifice, we should lay aside our own desires on a daily basis to follow His will; and we should do this from a grateful heart recognizing that our sins have been forgiven.

God has good, pleasing, and perfect plans for all of His children. He wants us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, living honorably in obedience. Because He only wants the best for us, and because He gave His only Son for us to make our new life possible, we should joyfully give ourselves as living sacrifices for His service.

Whatever He has called you to do, wherever He has called you to go, listen in true obedience. This is your true and proper worship.