Some people spend their lives trying to make the perfect apple pie for God, forgetting to ask whether He likes apple pie.
It was my dear friend and mentor Peter Lord who spoke of how some people spend their lives trying to make the perfect apple pie for God, only to discover that God doesn’t even like apple pie. Of course maybe if Jesus had had apple pie on earth he would have liked it – but you get my point: it’s about trying to do one thing really well, supposedly for God, without ever making sure it’s what God wants.
The Pharisees of Jesus’ day didn’t catch the absurdity. They fussed about the disciples eating from the grain field on the Sabbath. Jesus reminded them; “And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless.” Matthew 12:7
The mentality is still around. Many assume what sacrifice God wants, hoping that some personal deprivation will gain his favor. Too many have sacrificed their involvement in the marketplace where their heart and skills lie, to pursue vocational Christian ministry. They burn out or fall out when they discover that God never asked them to do it.
It is epidemic in every denomination of Christendom: we forget to ask God if He likes apple pie.
What does satisfy God’s appetite? He loves mercy. It is His very nature. He loves to give us his unmerited love. Jesus made it very clear that He didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinner to Himself (Matt. 9:13) The “righteous” (those deceived into thinking they have no need of mercy) don’t want mercy. To the needy, though, it is a balm that heals the sin-sick soul. Nothing satisfies like mercy! Nothing transforms us like mercy. Those who are forgiven much are much more forgiving. Those conscious of being loved much are very loving.
Failure to grasp this eternal truth is at the root of all kinds of spiritual bondage. Some may still be functioning but are filled with angst about their imperfection. Others are completely dysfunctional because of misguided traffic in their thoughts. Either way the problem can often be traced to mistaken views of sacrifice. Trying to give God something He doesn’t ask for takes the focus off of trusting Him as our Father who has accepted the sacrifice of Jesus, our human representative.
Jesus’ obedience, and the accompanying blessings in trusting His Father, have been transferred to us. He stood in our place and made a sacrifice we could not make. It is ridiculous for us to try to add to it or trust our own meager efforts to please God. He has another way, through Christ.
Millions could walk out of spiritual, emotional, and relational prisons today simply by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as fully as the Father does. He delights in mercy. He delights to find an acknowledged sinner upon whom He can lavish his mercy. If you know you are needy and incapable of doing anything to gain God’s favor, then you qualify for the big prize, what God wants most to give: mercy.