Proverb 21:3 (NLT) says: The Lord is more pleased when we do what is just and right than when we give him sacrifices.
Proverb 21:3 (Message) says: Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors mean far more to God than religious performance.
I like this verse, both translations. Well, I really like Proverbs, every last page of them. Simple phrases that teach how to live well, be well, and please God are flowing from the pages of Proverbs.
To me, this verse is simply saying that all the sitting, standing, kneeling, singing, praying, recitating, dressing up, sitting up straight, etc that we do on Sundays and sometimes Wednesday evenings are not nearly as important to God as simply doing the right thing. Sometimes folks can get lost in the religiosity* of their Christian walk and forget to simply walk with Jesus.
I think this verse is saying:
- Take care of your body
- Take care of your mind
- Take care of family
- Treat your neighbors fairly
- Speak out when there’s injustice
Some folks might read this verse and my interpretation and wonder why the act of “church” exsists then. Some folks might even think that I am being critical of particular denominations. I am saying neither of these things. Going to church, attending worship services, etc. are important, VERY important. The Bible also teaches us to spend time with fellow believers so that we can encourage each other, learn from each other, and share our troubles. We can refuel and gain faith by being with others of similar theological beliefs. Yes, some denominations have strict codes/rules of conduct in their sanctuaries. Some denominations are very “traditional” in that each service of that particular denomination, in each church, on any given Sunday is basically the same. Some church denominations are the opposite. God gave us all personalities. Each personality is different and you get to choose what church works for you! To some, it is a comfort to know exactly what to expect week after week no matter what. To some it is nice to see people dressing their absolute best when they come to worship- it shows respect and reverence to God. To some, it is nice to know that God loves each of us, no matter what we wear- this shows God’s loving kindness and grace.
My point today is this: no matter where you go to church, no matter how “religious” you are (or are not)- don’t focus so much on the traditions and rules of your church that you forget kindness, generosity, hope, care, and love when dealing with people- ALL of God’s people (including yourself). This brings a smile to God’s face- HE is pleased!
*re·li·gi·os·ity (ri lij′ē äs′ə tē) noun –the quality of being religious