What Does “I Desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice” Really Mean? (Father Simon Says)

“I desire mercy, not sacrifice”? 🤔 It can be a “head scratcher.”

It doesn’t mean that sacrifice isn’t important. 

Fr. Richard Simon gives spotlight to the Hebrew word “chesed”—a word so rich, it’s like the Swiss Army knife of biblical terms, slicing through multiple meanings like grace, love, and mercy. Rabbi Lefkowitz suggested that “chesed” is about going above and beyond the call of duty. It’s not just about ticking boxes; it’s about embodying the character of God.

Fr. Simon then dives into the age-old mystery: Why was Abel’s sacrificial offering accepted by God, while Cain’s wasn’t? It turns out, it’s all about the covenant.

This segues into a crash course on contracts vs. covenants. A contract is like a business deal, while a covenant is more like marriage—unbreakable, intimate, and it’s about giving all of yourself, not just swapping goods. So, when Cain tried to bargain with God, and Abel went the covenant route, guess who won His favor?

Fr. Simon doesn’t mince words: trying to bargain with God using sacrifices or religious rituals like they’re cheap coupons is an absolute no-go. God isn’t swayed by our spiritual theatrics. He doesn’t want us to try to just get something out of Him. What He wants is our whole selves, our trust, our love—in other words, a covenant relationship.

So, when Scripture says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” it’s God saying that He’s after our hearts, our “chesed”—our willingness to engage in a deep, covenantal relationship that’s more profound than any sacrifice we could offer.

TL;DR: God’s divine love language isn’t about the material things we give but the depth of trust, love, and self we’re willing to share. It’s not the size of the sacrifice that counts, but the heart’s willingness to enter into a covenant of “chesed” with the Almighty. 💖

Jake Moore serves as a Digital Audio Content Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is passionate about classic movies, Christian music, young adult ministry, and leading this generation to Christ through compelling media. You can listen to more of his podcasts at relevantradio.com and on the Relevant Radio® app.