Hosea 6:6 I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings. (NLT *This verse has been translated multiple ways, the word “love” being replaced with mercy or loyalty. I like how this version stated it.)
Rules. There are lots of them. Some of these rules we call laws – things like: drive the speed limit, don’t steal, get a permit before you build a house. The result of breaking these rules are things called penalties, such as fines or jail time. There are also social rules and moral rules – be courteous, don’t cut in line, hold the door for the next person coming in, be kind to your neighbors. The Old Testament had lots of rules, too. These were the laws of God and Israel was expected to follow them.
The problem, however, was that even though they tried to follow the rules, their hearts weren’t always in it. They went through the motions of righteousness but had wickedness in their hearts. They focused so much on the ritual that they missed the relationship. God wanted their love more than their sacrifices. He wanted them to know Him more than He wanted their burnt offerings. Because God is ultimately about drawing us into His heart. He wants you to know Him.
As Christians, we try to do a bunch of stuff to measure up. We read our Bibles, pray, go to church, love others, give money, and even volunteer in the nursery. These are all good things – please don’t stop doing them. But what we need to assess is “why” we are doing them. Are we trying to follow the rules of religion or are we responding out of our relationship with our Father? As you are drawn into His heart, these things flow from yours. It’s about knowing Him. So know Him. Not the rules… Him.