For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6 (NRSV)
Hosea was giving Israel a wake-up call to repentance. Sure, they may have been following the letter of the law. They were going through the motions, "Oh, it's time for sacrifice again? Let me go pick out a bull and head to the temple. Seems silly, but it's tradition." They had forgotten the God that had delivered them time after time. They had turned to other gods and forsaken their love for the one true God. Their relationship was based on routine acts and not from the heart -- absent was the love. It would be like treating your significant other poorly most of the year, then giving flowers, candy, and a card on Valentine’s Day.
The lesson holds for us today. It is easy to let our relationship with God become stale and routine. We need to ensure it is more than just a checklist. Prayed today -- Check. Read the Bible -- Check. Church on Sunday -- Check. Tithes paid -- Check.
Let there be no mistake; it is right for us to praise and worship God. Anytime we come together as his people to hear his word and listen for his voice, it is a joyful occasion. It is also a good thing to offer our talents and offerings too. All we do must be done from love and with sincere and contrite hearts. When we get this right, our praise and gifts are acceptable in his sight.
God, we give you thanks and praise for all you do for us. Please help us to remember our deliverance. We confess that sometimes we simply go through the motions. We do not fully love you and each other as we should. We ask for your forgiveness and help us to grow in the knowledge of you. In Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.