Mercy, Not Sacrifice | Matthew 9:9-13

Welcome to Real Life. For a long time, I had this verse taped to the wall by my kitchen sink. I needed the daily reminder.

Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

Dad and Mom at "Boot Camp"
My elderly parents were living in Florida when their health began to fail. After Mom lost her lower leg to poor circulation, she landed in a nursing facility for rehabilitation. These facilities do the best they can with the staff they have. But, I knew Mom needed more attention than they could provide. So, I devised a plan to move my parents into my home in Ohio for a 6-week boot camp and whip Mom back into shape. (I know...pretty naïve, right?) Those six weeks stretched into a year.[1]

It felt like (and it was) a huge sacrifice. Our lives changed drastically. One morning as I read God’s Word, He spoke this verse to me…

Go and learn what this means, Peggi: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.

I had the wrong focus. God wasn’t impressed by my sacrifice. He was concerned with my heart? My parents were losing their health, independence, home, church family, and familiar surroundings. Did I care?

A proud heart is focused on the sacrifice. A merciful heart cares about people. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.[2]

Matthew, a tax collector, was sitting at his tax booth the day Jesus called him to be an apostle. In Jesus’ day, tax collectors swindled and squeezed as much money as possible from their fellow Jews. They were hated and even expelled from the synagogue. Clearly, Matthew was an unconventional choice. To make matters worse, Jesus then attended a dinner party at Matthew’s home where he was surrounded by all the taxman’s lowlife friends.

The Pharisees took notice, of course. Wasn’t Jesus a rabbi? Shouldn’t he set an example? “So, why does he associate with tax collectors and sinners?” they asked.

Jesus’ answer is as simple as it is profound, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Then, he added, “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.[3] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Lord Jesus, if not for your mercy where would I be?
I want my heart to reflect your merciful heart. Teach me.

[1] For the next four years, my parents lived with my sister's family who were full of mercy!
[2] Matthew 5:7
[3] Jesus quoted Hosea 6:6.


  1. Simple, direct, true, and with profound implications. Love this! I, too, need to emphasize mercy instead of marveling at my own sacrifices.

    1. Wow! Thanks, Sean. It's great to hear from you. My parents are home in heaven now. But, I still feel this message of mercy poignantly. And, I need to keep feeling it!

  2. I like your distinction between mercy and sacrifice.... it's always about our heart.

    1. Thanks, Michelle! Blessed by your comment. :)

  3. This post gives me a heads up as to how to approach my responsibility to my aging parents. Beautiful. Thank you.

    1. You're welcome. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.
      Just to clarify, every family's situation is different. My parents had multiple health issues, including both had dementia. After living in my home, my parents lived with my sister's family and we hired caregivers to come in to assist, then in assisted living for a short while, then in skilled nursing care after my mother lost both her legs. God leads us all on different paths. Regardless of the particulars, God is concerned with our hearts towards those suffering.


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